WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday put on hold a lower court ruling that Louisiana must draw new congressional districts before the 2022 elections to increase Black voting power.
With the three liberal justices dissenting, the high court short-circuited an order from a federal judge to create a second majority Black congressional district in Louisiana.
The state will hold elections this year under a congressional map adopted by its Republican-dominated legislature with white majorities in five of six districts.
The court's action is similar to an order issued in February in Alabama that allowed the state to hold elections in 2022 under a map drawn by Alabama’s GOP-controlled legislature that contains one majority-Black district. Alabama has seven seats in the House of Representatives.
The justices are hearing arguments in the Alabama case in October. The Louisiana case will remain on hold under the court renders a decision on the Alabama case, the justices said.
Here's some reaction from Gov. John Bel Edwards:
“Today’s ruling from the Supreme Court is more than a little disappointing. The District Court’s well-reasoned 157 page decision clearly demonstrated that the maps passed by the legislature do not comply with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Black Louisianans make up one third of our population, and one third of our districts should be majority Black when such a map can be drawn, and, as has been clearly demonstrated, that map is more compact, better adheres to the legal principles governing redistricting, and will perform. As I have always maintained, it is about simple math, basic fairness, and the rule of law."
From state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, who authored the bill:
“I am very pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to halt the chaos created by Judge Dick's earlier order & is allowing Louisiana's congressional races to proceed with the map enacted by the legislature, which we have always maintained is constitutional."
State Rep. Vincent Pierre, Chairman of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus Responds to U.S. Supreme Court Ruling:
On behalf of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus (LLBC), we are disheartened to see that the Supreme Court has put on hold the drawing of new Louisiana congressional districts before the 2022 elections. I am proud of the work that we in the LLBC have done along with our legal team, the NAACP, and Power Coalition to continue to fight to increase black voting power here in Louisiana, but our hopes for change in the short term have been dashed. We maintain that the current map is an obvious violation of Section 2 of the voting rights act, and with this decision we will be forced to continue forward into the next election with this map in place, having one minority district. It is our hope that the Court will come to rule in our favor to resolve the issue of under-representation for minorities in our state.
President and CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana, Judy Reese Morse
The Urban League of Louisiana is deeply disappointed by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling which allows Louisiana to perpetuate racial inequity and operate in a manner that is not reflective of the US Census or the state’s African American population. The ruling forces African Americans to live with a congressional map that does not comply with the Voting Rights Act and minimizes Black voting power. African Americans deserve and demand fair legislative districts and representation in our state. We know the last few weeks have been a gut-punch and a throat choke to many African Americans and undeserved communities. As frustrating as these decisions from lawmakers who are supposed to serve us fairly are, it only strengthens our commitment to fight for civil rights, racial equity and economic self-reliance.
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin
The primary function of the Secretary of State is to ensure elections are conducted in a secure and equitable manner. We work hard, year-round, to guarantee that Louisiana's elections run effectively and securely. Today's ruling by the United States Supreme Court gives us the ability to continue working to implement secure elections this fall for all voters in Louisiana.