Louisiana house map blocked by judge calling it a racist germander

A federal judge ruled Monday that Louisiana’s new congressional map represents a racial outline and must be redrawn to include a second district that gives black voters the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice.

Judge Shelley D. Dick of the United States District Court for the Central District of Louisiana has ordered the state legislature to release a revised map of the state’s six congressional districts by June 20. It also directed the state to extend the deadline for nominations to the House of Representatives, now set for June 22, to July 8.

Its 150-page ruling said a House map enacted by the Republican-controlled legislature illegally mobilized black voters in the second congressional district, then divided the remaining black voters among the five remaining districts.

Civil rights groups argued that the legislature could easily have created a second, black-majority congressional district, but chose instead to effectively duplicate the predominantly black district on the previous House map.

That area, with a population of roughly 70 percent, snakes along the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. A large part of it is surrounded by the sixth region, a third of which is black.

Nearly a third of the state’s population is African American – one of the largest proportions of any state – while 57 percent of the state’s population is white. The 2020 census showed that the state’s black population had grown by 3.8 percent in the previous decade, while the white population had declined by 6.3 percent.

Judge Dick’s opinion has gone to the trouble of arguing that her order has given the state more than enough time to map out a new map and carry on with the primaries, which will take place on November 3. 8. General elections in December.

The Supreme Court has overturned a number of court decisions that have made changes in elections in the past two years, citing a legal principle called the Purcell Principle which states that courts should not make changes in laws or rules too close to an election for lest they confuse voters.

Most notably, in February the court returned an Alabama map to Congress that struck down a lower court that was undermining the voting power of blacks, saying it would hear an appeal of the ruling after the November elections.

Courts still have to decide when it is too early for Election Day to bypass voting procedures, but Judge Dick, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, argued forcefully that the principle did not apply in the Louisiana case.

The state attorney general said ordering the remaps “would be a hurricane” in the state’s election schedule, but the judge said state officials themselves testified that mechanisms such as reprinting ballots and telling voters which district they live in, while inappropriate, were not. It is impossible to implement.

“Putting bureaucratic pressure on a government agency to correct a violation of federal law is not the same as a natural disaster,” she wrote. “It is quite clear that protecting voting rights is in the public interest, while allowing elections to be conducted according to a map that violates federal law is certainly not.”

Black state representatives had argued for a second district at redistricting hearings last fall, with Ted James, at the time, the state representative who led the black legislature, emphatically saying that “a third of a six is ​​two.”

Government. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, a Democrat, had vetoed the House map in March, saying it was “simply unfair to the people of Louisiana and does not meet the criteria set forth in the federal Voting Rights Act.”

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