LOUISIANA – In a decisive move, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has mandated that the Louisiana Legislature must devise a revised congressional map by January 15 to avert potential changes imposed by a district court. This ruling comes in the wake of a previous court decision deeming Louisiana’s congressional map in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Notably, the map, redrawn by legislators last year as part of a once-in-a-decade redistricting process, failed to establish a second majority-Black district.
The existing configuration, which maintains a 5-to-1 Republican advantage, leaves only one majority-Black district out of six in a state where Black residents constitute nearly a third of the population. Responding to legal challenges from civil rights organizations, Federal Judge Shelly Dick asserted that Black Louisianans should have the opportunity to influence the representation in two Congressional districts, amounting to a third of the state’s seats.
Scheduled to preside over a hearing on the matter on February 5, Judge Dick was poised to redraw the map. However, the state contested the decision, leading to the involvement of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The appellate court has granted the Louisiana Legislature a final chance to redraft the congressional map. Failure to present a new plan by the January 15 deadline would prompt the district court to conduct a trial and other necessary proceedings to assess the validity of the current map (H.B. 1) and, if deemed necessary, to adopt an alternative districting plan for the 2024 elections.
Governor John Bel Edwards remains steadfast in advocating for a congressional map that accurately represents the state’s voting population, particularly the one-third Black demographic. He views the 5th Circuit’s action as a positive step toward achieving two majority-Black districts before the upcoming congressional elections.
In response to the court’s decision, Governor-elect Jeff Landry, set to be inaugurated on January 8, has signaled his intention to call a special legislative session to address the redistricting issue. Emphasizing that redistricting is a state legislative function, Landry expressed his commitment to resolving the matter based on the recent court ruling.