New district fight for Louisiana's Supreme Court ends in stalemate

 January 22, 2024

A special session of the Louisiana state legislature concluded on Friday without reaching a resolution on a controversial plan to redraw election districts for the Louisiana Supreme Court.

The proposal, which aimed to add a second majority-Black district to the court's composition, faced internal discord among the justices and procedural hurdles.

The results

All seven justices expressed support for the addition of a second majority-Black district to the court. However, Associate Justices William Crane, James Genovese, Piper Griffin, Jefferson Hughes, and Jay McCallum submitted a redistricting proposal that encountered resistance.

The plan gained approval in the House and secured Senate committee support but was not brought to a vote by Senate President Cameron Henry before the session's end.

The decision not to vote on the redistricting plan was attributed to time constraints and a primary focus on other legislative priorities, including the congressional map and closed primaries.

Nothing happening

The legislature, following the advice of Gov. Jeff Landry, sought to address a federal judge's deadline to add a second majority-Black district to Louisiana's U.S. House delegation.

The plan, seen as a concession, aimed to replace a map approved in 2022 that currently has only one majority-Black district, facing legal challenges.

While Landry also advocated for party-only closed primaries, the approved bill delays implementation until 2026.

It limits closed primaries to specific races, including Congress, the state school board, and the Public Service Commission. Unaffiliated voters are now allowed to participate in party primaries.

The background

The Louisiana Supreme Court's district lines, untouched for 103 years, were slated for redistricting. The proposed plan faced hurdles, including Chief Justice John Weimer's opposition due to substantial alterations to his district. Weimer objected to the relocation of his hometown, Thibodaux, from his current district to one centered in Acadiana.

The legislature's decision not to move forward with the proposed court districts was influenced by the bill's last-minute arrival and logistical challenges due to a recent hard freeze.

The possibility of revisiting the issue in future sessions, including a special session on crime and public safety starting on Feb. 19, remains open in the case.

The stalemate underscores the complexity and internal disagreements surrounding the redistricting process for the Louisiana Supreme Court, with potential implications for the court's composition in the years to come.

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