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Judge rejects Louisiana congressional map with only one Black district

The judge ordered the GOP-led Legislature to submit a new plan by June 20.
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/ Source: The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge on Monday blocked the use of newly drawn congressional maps in Louisiana that include only one mostly Black district, and she ordered the Legislature to come up with a remedial plan by June 20.

State officials swiftly filed a notice of appeal of the order by U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick in Baton Rouge.

Dick’s June 20 deadline for drawing new district lines is one month before the signup period for the Nov. 8 congressional election.

“If the Legislature is unable to pass a remedial plan by that date, the Court will issue additional orders to enact a remedial plan compliant with the laws and Constitution of the United States,” the judge wrote.

The district map was drawn up in a special session earlier this year by the Republican-dominated Legislature. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed the maps but his veto was overridden. That led to a lawsuit by voting rights advocates.

Edwards said lawmakers should have included a second majority-Black district among the six districts they approved, noting that the state’s population is almost one-third Black.

News of the decision was spreading as the Legislature was preparing to end its 2022 regular session Monday afternoon. It was unclear what the next move of the legislative leadership would be once the regular session ended.

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, a Republican who is the state’s top election official, filed a notice of appeal with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Ultimately, the case could wind up before the Supreme Court, which earlier this year put on hold a lower court ruling that Alabama must draw new congressional districts before the 2022 elections to increase Black voting power.

Ardoin’s office said he would have a statement later Monday. Edwards was expected to address the issue at a news conference set for the end of the session.

In blocking the use of the map pending further elections, Dick said those filing the lawsuit were likely to prevail with their argument that the new districts violate the federal Voting Rights Act. She blocked Ardoin from conducting any elections using the new map.