Now that a federal judge has prohibited the use of maps with only one majority-Black district, Louisiana’s Democratic governor said Monday he will summon a special session of the Republican-controlled Legislature to draw up new congressional district lines.
At a press conference at the Capitol in Baton Rouge, Gov. John Bel Edwards outlined his plan. He talked to reporters only minutes after the regular legislative session in 2022 finished and a few hours after U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick in Baton Rouge halted the adoption of the revised maps. Her decision gave a deadline of June 20 for the Legislature to come up with a corrective plan.
Edwards, whose veto of the plans was rejected by lawmakers earlier this year, said that among the six districts approved, there should have been a second majority-Black district, adding that the state’s population is almost one-third, Black.
The court ruling, the Voting Rights Act, and “basic fairness and simple math” all require redrawing the district lines, according to Edwards.
However, the state’s top elected official, Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, quickly filed a notice of appeal of Dick’s order.
Dick’s deadline for drafting new district lines is June 20, one month before the Nov. 8 congressional election signup period.
“If the Legislature fails to pass a remedial plan by that date,” the judge wrote, “the Court will issue additional orders to implement a remedial plan in accordance with the laws and Constitution of the United States.”
The district plan was created during a legislative special session earlier this year to redraw government district lines to account for population fluctuations shown by the 2020 census. The maps were vetoed by Edwards, but he was overruled. Voting rights supporters filed a lawsuit as a result of this.
Ardoin filed a notice of appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans. The dispute could end up in front of the Supreme Court, which recently put on hold a lower court finding that Alabama must draw new congressional districts before the 2022 elections in order to strengthen Black voting power.
Ardoin’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the case.
Dick predicted that those who filed the complaint, claiming that the new districts violate the federal Voting Rights Act, would win, halting the operation of the plan until more elections were held. She forbade Ardoin from utilizing the new map to hold elections.