New Orleans (AP) – The Democratic governor of Louisiana said on Monday that he would soon call a special session of the Republican-dominated legislature to draw the district boundaries of the new Congress, and now a federal judge has blocked the use of maps containing only a majority-black district.
Governor John Bell Edwards announced his plan at a press conference at the Capitol in Baton Rouge. He spoke to reporters a few minutes after the end of the 2022 regular legislative session, and a few hours later U.S. District Judge Shelley Dick blocked the use of new maps on Baton Rouge. His ruling included an order requiring the legislature to develop a restructuring plan by June 20.
Edwards, whose veto of maps was violated by lawmakers earlier this year, said it should be the second-largest majority-black district in the six recognized districts, noting that nearly a third of the state’s population is black.
Edwards said the district lines should be redrawn by court order, suffrage law and “basic justice and basic mathematics.”
But the lawyers for Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ordoin quickly filed a notice of appeal against Dick’s order, the state’s top elected official.
Dickin’s June 20 deadline to draw new district lines is a month ahead of the registration deadline for the November 8 congressional election.
“If the Legislature is unable to pass a restructuring plan by that date, the court will issue additional orders to implement a settlement plan in accordance with U.S. laws and the Constitution,” the judge wrote.
The district map was drawn up at a special session earlier this year during a special session of the legislature called to re-draw government district lines to calculate the demographic changes shown in the 2020 census. Edwards vetoed the maps but his veto was thwarted. This led to litigation by right to vote lawyers.
Artoin filed a notice of appeal in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Eventually, the case will end before the Supreme Court, which set aside a lower court ruling earlier this year that would require Alabama to draw new congressional districts to increase black suffrage before the 2022 election.
Orto’s office declined to comment on the case.
Dick added that the plaintiffs could prevail with their argument that the new districts violate federal voting rights law by further preventing the use of the pending election map. She used the new map to prevent Ardoin from holding any elections.
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