Governor John Bel Edwards says he will not cancel the call for a special session to redraw Louisiana’s Congressional district maps.
In a letter sent to the Senate President and Speaker of the House, Edwards explains that it would be premature to cancel the Extraordinary Session of the Louisiana Legislature which is set to begin on June 15, 2022.
Edwards called the session after the Middle District Court ruled that the maps of Louisiana’s congressional districts drawn by Republicans in the legislature violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Late Thursday, the Fifth Circuit issued an administrative stay of the Middle District Court’s injunction directing the Legislature to draw new maps.
However, the court also requested briefings be filed by the parties regarding the stay request by 4 p.m. on Friday, June 10. Given the expedited timeline, The Governor's Office says there will likely be additional action by the Fifth Circuit on the stay request before the session is set to begin on June 15.
The Governor’s letter advised the Speaker and the President that, while he is not rescinding the special session call at this time, he will rescind the call if a stay from the Fifth Circuit is in place as of 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 14.
In the letter, Gov. Edwards states:
“I remain hopeful that the Fifth Circuit will vacate the administrative stay and allow Judge Dick’s well-reasoned decision and injunction to remain in place. I believe the legislature can and should meet next week to enact maps that create a second majority-minority district. Further, while I am mindful of the costs to the taxpayers as pointed out in your press release, it is clear that the state would have saved the unknown thousands of dollars being spent on out-of-state lawyers if the legislature had originally enacted maps that comply with the Voting Rights Act and the standard of fundamental fairness. It is not too late for the legislature to do the right thing. However, while I am Governor, I also remain an officer of the court, and I respect the Fifth Circuit’s authority over this matter. Should the Court retain a stay over Judge Dick’s decision, I agree that further action of the legislature should be delayed until the Fifth Circuit can review the merits of her decision.”
As of now, the Special Session will begin on June 15, 2022, and must adjourn by 6 p.m. on June 20, 2022. Click here to read the Governor’s letter.
Earlier on Friday, Senate President Page Cortez and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder released a statement on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals' stay of the order.
"The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal has issued a stay of the June 6 district court’s ruling regarding congressional redistricting rendering the Governor’s proclamation calling and convening the Legislature into a special session unnecessary and premature. Until the courts have made a final determination on the congressional maps as they were passed by a super majority of the Legislature, we are asking the Governor to rescind his special session call. Before the judicial redistricting process is complete, any special session would be premature and a waste of taxpayer money."
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin release the following statement in response to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeales ruling:
"We have received the decision by a three judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals lifting the stay of Judge Shelly Dick's preliminary injunction and we are determining our next course of action. While I strongly disagree with the ruling of the panel, as Secretary of State I am obligated to comply with federal and state law, including Judge Dick's injunction as long as it remains in effect," said Ardoin. "I also remain committed that my office will do everything in our power to administer fair and equitable elections for all Louisiana voters in 2022.”
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