Supreme Court upholds new majority black district in Louisiana

The Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned a decision by two Trump-appointed justices in Louisiana and restored a state electoral map that could allow Black voters to elect a Democrat to Congress this fall.

The judges were acting in response to emergency appeals filed by civil rights lawyers as well as Louisiana Republican leaders. Both supported the newly drawn state map with a majority-black second district.

About a third of Louisiana voters are black, but five of its six congressional districts had regularly elected white Republicans. The only black representative came from New Orleans.

In a separate case last year, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of voting rights advocates in Alabama, saying that state needed to create a second congressional district that could very well elect a black candidate.

In applying that ruling, a federal judge in Baton Rouge said Louisiana also needed to redraw its congressional map to create a majority-Black second district. The Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans agreed, and the justices said the Louisiana Legislature should draw the new map.

With the backing of newly elected Gov. Jeff Landry, state lawmakers met in a special session in January and drew a map that protected the districts of House Speaker Mike Johnson and Majority Leader Steve Scalise. However, they redrawn the district held by Republican Rep. Garret Graves, who had endorsed Landry's opponent in last year's election.

The newly drawn 6th Congressional District stretches from Baton Rouge to Shreveport and has a black majority. State Sen. Cleo Fields, a black Democrat who served in Congress in the mid-1990s, said she planned to run in the new district.

But shortly after Landry signed the new map into law, a group of white voters filed a lawsuit in Monroe, Louisiana, alleging that they were victims of racial discrimination. They won a 2-1 ruling that declared the new map unconstitutional on April 30.

U.S. District Judges David Joseph and Robert Summerhays, appointed by President Trump, ruled that the Louisiana map is an “impermissible racial gerrymander… As a result, the state is prohibited from using [the map] in future elections.”

Dissenting, Fifth Circuit Judge Carl E. Stewart, appointed by President Clinton, called the decision “discordant” because the state Legislature was under a court order based on the Voting Rights Act that required a new map with a majority black second district. .

The strange turn of events led civil rights advocates and Louisiana Republicans to file emergency appeals to the Supreme Court.

On May 8, lawyers from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the ACLU urged the Supreme Court to overturn the 2-1 ruling blocking use of the new map.

Two days later the Louisiana lawyer joined them. General Elizabeth B. Murrill. She also asked the court to overturn the recent ruling so that the map drawn up by the Legislature can be used this year.

“Louisiana's impossible situation in this redistricting cycle would be comical if it weren't so serious,” he told the court.

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