WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court Louisiana on Monday lifted its hold on a political remap case that would require the Republican-dominated state to redraw boundary lines to create the second most black congressional district.
The development revived Black Louisianans’ hopes of creating the second majority-black district in the Deep South state. A legal battle over GOP-drawn political boundaries has been ongoing for more than a year, with opponents arguing the map is unfair and discriminates against black voters. The map used in Louisiana’s November congressional election shows white majorities in five of the six districts — even though blacks make up about a third of the state’s population.
White Republicans hold each of the five white districts. A majority black district could deliver another congressional seat to a Democrat.
“I’m very excited,” Ashley Shelton, president of the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, one of the groups challenging the maps, said Monday following the news. “What this does is it puts us back on track to create a second majority-minority district.”
The order follows the court’s June rejection of a congressional redistricting map in Alabama and freezes the Louisiana case pending in Alabama.
In both states, only one congressional district has a majority of black voters. Lower courts ruled that the maps raised concerns that black voting power had been diluted in violation of the landmark federal Voting Rights Act.
When the justices considered the Alabama case, they allowed the state’s challenged map to be used in last year’s elections.
In Louisiana, U.S. District Judge Shelley Dick struck down the map in June 2022 for violating the Voting Rights Act, citing “evidence of Louisiana’s long and persistent history of voting discrimination in Plaintiffs’ favor.” Dick ordered lawmakers to hold a special session to redraw the map and add a second majority-black district. Lawmakers, however, failed to meet their deadline, and as a result Dick said he would enact a map of his choice.
The Louisiana case was appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, where the high court stayed the case. The judges said the appeal can now go ahead of next year’s Congress elections.
U.S. Representative Troy Carter, Louisiana’s only Democrat and black congressman, praised the Supreme Court for lifting the hold.
“This decision shows that fair and equal representation is critical to a healthy democracy, whether for the people of Louisiana or anywhere else in the world,” Carter tweeted.
Every 10 years, state lawmakers — with new U.S. Census Bureau data — redraw political boundaries for seats in the U.S. House, state Senate, state House, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Public Service Commission. This process ultimately affects which political parties, viewpoints, and populations control the governmental bodies that write laws, set utilization rates, and create public school policies.
The redistricting process in Louisiana has been a tense political tug-of-war, with the Republican-dominated Legislature and Democrats, including Gov. John Bel Edwards, fighting over boundaries starting in February 2022. Along with the legal battle, the debate was marked by Edwards’ veto of the map Transgresses borders and legislature His veto — the first time in nearly three decades lawmakers have refused to accept a governor’s veto of a bill they passed.
Follow AP’s coverage of the US Supreme Court at https://apnews.com/hub/us-supreme-court.