Supreme Court Throws Out Louisiana’s Appeal, Making Way for New Congressional Map

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
June 26, 2023Judiciary

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that another congressional map may have to be redrawn amid claims that it inappropriately dilutes the influence of black voters in the state.

“The writ of certiorari before judgment is dismissed as improvidently granted. The stay heretofore entered by the Court on June 28, 2022, is vacated,” the court wrote Monday (pdf) before it said that the case needs to be resolved before congressional elections in Louisiana in November 2024. “This will allow the matter to proceed before the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for review in the ordinary course and in advance of the 2024 congressional elections in Louisiana.”

It’s not clear if there were any dissents. The order was unsigned.

The justices had taken up the case last year but put it on hold pending their ruling in a similar case from Alabama, which they issued in a 5-4 ruling on June 8.

On Monday, the justices dismissed the appeal by Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin of a federal judge’s ruling that asserted the map drawn by the Republican-led state legislature of the House districts likely discriminated unlawfully based on race.

U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, last year directed Louisiana’s legislature create two, rather than just one, House districts where black voters represent the majority of voters, a decision that could boost Democratic chances of regaining control next year of the House.

Monday’s order follows the court’s rejection earlier this month of a congressional redistricting map in Alabama that also unfroze the Louisiana case. In both the Alabama and Louisiana cases, plaintiffs had claimed that black voters are a majority in just one congressional district in their respective states.

Lower courts had argued that the maps raised concerns that black voting power had been diluted, which goes in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.

State officials in Louisiana were sued last year over a congressional map passed by Republicans in the state legislature that, according to multiple reports, made one of its six congressional districts majority black.

The ruling means, according to former Democratic National Committee lawyer Marc Elias, that it could “[pave] the way for the creation of a second minority opportunity congressional district.”

The ruling comes as the Supreme Court is slated to issue rulings in a series of major cases before its term ends in the coming days. One includes a decision in another redistricting case that involves a North Carolina congressional map.

Electoral districts in the United States are redrawn each decade to reflect population changes as measured by a national census, last taken in 2020. In most states, such redistricting is done by the party in power, which can lead to map manipulation for partisan gain.

Democrats have long accused Republicans of exploiting state legislature majorities to draw electoral maps that dilute the clout of black and other minority voters. Republicans have said the consideration of race in drawing electoral maps must be limited.

When the Louisiana legislature passed the map in February 2022, Democratic Governor Jon Bel Edwards vetoed it, criticizing the plan for failing to include a second black-majority district. Then, the GOP legislature voted to override the veto.

The map was challenged by black voters and civil rights groups in multiple lawsuits. The plaintiffs said the Republican-drawn unlawfully packed large numbers of black voters into a single district and dispersed the rest into the five others in numbers too small to enable them to elect their preferred candidates.

The Epoch Times has contacted Ardoin’s office for comment.

In petitioning the Supreme Court, Ardoin’s lawyers wrote that the state’s “redistricting saga began thirty-years before the State legislature received the 2020 Decennial Census data,” adding that after redistricting was done in 1990, the state legislature twice tried to re-draw congressional maps “to include two majority-minority congressional districts.”

“Both times,” his office wrote (pdf), “the maps pinned East Baton Rouge Parish as the population anchor for the second majority-minority district, which extended north along the Mississippi River, into Louisiana’s Delta Region (over 180 miles away), and then across the top of the State. Courts struck both maps as racial gerrymanders that violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.”

But in Dick’s ruling last year, he argued that plaintiffs “have demonstrated that they will suffer an irreparable harm if voting takes place in the 2022 Louisiana congressional elections based on a redistricting plan that violates federal law,” adding that “there can be no do-over and no redress for voters whose rights were violated, and votes diluted by the challenged plan.”

Reuters contributed to this report. 

From The Epoch Times

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