Court Battles

Supreme Court revives GOP-drawn Louisiana voting map halted for likely racial bias

The Supreme Court on Tuesday voted 6-3 to reinstate a Louisiana voting map that had been blocked by a federal judge who found that the state’s new GOP-drawn redistricting plan likely discriminates against Black voters.

The court’s conservative majority voted to revive Louisiana’s new U.S. House districting map, over a dissent from the three liberal justices. The move came in a brief unsigned order issued without comment under the court’s so-called “shadow docket.”

Additionally, the justices added the case to their docket for their next court term, which begins this fall. They are slated to hear arguments in October over a similar Voting Rights Act challenge to Alabama’s new voting maps.

The Tuesday order pauses a ruling issued earlier this month by U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick, an Obama appointee, who found Louisiana’s new redistricting plan likely violates federal voting protections by diluting the franchise of Black voters.

The judge ordered the GOP-held legislature to draw a new map that created a second majority-Black congressional district in Louisiana. Under the original plan, large numbers of Black voters were consolidated into a single majority-Black congressional district, with remaining Black voters dispersed throughout the state’s five other districts.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) vetoed the Republican-drawn congressional district maps in March, saying he thought the maps did not accurately reflect the makeup of Louisiana, a state where almost 33 percent of residents are Black. The GOP-held legislature overrode his veto later that month.

The Louisiana-based federal judge, in her June 6 preliminary ruling, said the challengers were likely to ultimately prevail in their case. The plaintiffs include a group of Louisiana voters who are backed by the NAACP and other voting rights advocacy groups.

“The Court concludes 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,” Dick wrote in a 152-page ruling.

“Voting is a fundamental political right, because it is preservative of all rights. Once the election occurs, there can be no do-over and no redress for voters whose rights were violated, and votes diluted by the challenged plan.”

In response, Louisiana’s Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin asked a New Orleans-based federal appeals court to halt the ruling, but was rebuffed. This prompted Ardoin’s ultimately successful request to Justice Samuel Alito, who handles emergency matters arising from Louisiana, and who referred the matter to the full court.

Tags John Bel Edwards Louisiana Louisiana congressional map Supreme Court
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