Federal court gives Louisiana until January 15 to draw new congressional map

 November 13, 2023

A major court decision came down last week that has major implications for Louisiana's political future. 

According to The Hill, federal judges have given state lawmakers until January 15 of next year to come up with a new congressional map.

Appeals court references Supreme Court ruling in Alabama map case

The ruling was put forward on Friday by a three-judge panel in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and it came in the wake of a lower court ruling last year which found that Louisiana's current electoral map weakens the power of black voters.

"Plaintiffs challenge the Louisiana Legislature's 2022 redistricting map for electing the state's six members of the United States House of Representatives," the 5th Circuit opinion began.

It then recalled how "[t]he district court preliminarily enjoined use of that map for the 2022 congressional elections."

"The United States Supreme Court stayed that injunction, pending resolution of a case involving Alabama's congressional redistricting plan. About a year later, the Supreme Court resolved the Alabama case. We now apply the Court's reasoning to Louisiana," it went on to add.

New governor may have to call special legislative session after taking office

The order went on to state that "the district court’s 2022 preliminary injunction, issued with the urgency of establishing a map for the 2022 elections, is no longer necessary."

Current Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards was defeated earlier this month by Republican challenger Jeff Landry, a fact which the opinion took into account.

The Hill noted that Edwards has the option of calling a special legislative session to redraw the state's congressional boundaries. Conversely, Landry may call such a session immediately after he takes office on January 8.

Friday's opinion stressed that "an opportunity to adopt a new plan is appropriate since redistricting is a quintessential obligation of a state after a census."

Map one majority black district despite third of state being African American

However, a lower district could conduct a trial to resolve the issue should state lawmakers fail to properly resolve the issue.

Edwards previously vetoed a number of congressional maps proposed by Republicans on the grounds that they did not accurately reflect the state's racial make-up.

However, his veto was ultimately overridden when the Legislature passed a map that contained only one majority-Black district despite Louisiana's population being 33% African American.

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