2nd Black District in LA Not Guaranteed

Jeff Thomas

The Supreme Court weighed in on the Louisiana Congressional Map Embroglio. Thinking the matter settled, many African Americans exhaled. But as a famous sports caster says, “Not so fast my friends.” Cause the Supreme Court basically pressed pause. The fight for the 2nd Congressional District in Louisiana is far from settled. Like the fancy word embroglio suggests, this is complicated mess.

Now simple math dictates that Louisianans deserve a second African American Congressional District. Based upon population, Louisiana sends six people to represent the state in Congress. The Voting Rights Act requires the creation of one or more “majority-minority” districts, in which a racial minority group comprises a voting majority. And since 33% of the population in Louisiana is African American, then 2 of the 6 districts must be African American.

Judges Decide or Louisiana citizens
And an Obama appointed U.S. District Judge, Shelly Dick, warned Louisiana Republicans that the 5 to 1 plan they submitted violated the VRA and that if they didn’t create a 4 to 2 map, then she would do it for them. So, Gov Jeff Landry and the legislature created a second majority Black District. Judge Dick approved the new maps and ordered the state to use them in the upcoming election later this year. This is where it gets complicated. There are rules about Congressional Districts. The factors considered in drawing maps are:

  • Race
  • Compactness
  • Contiguity
  • Communities of Interest
  • Preservation of Political Subdivisions – like towns, cities, or parishes
  • And when race is the predominant factor – as Judge Dick dictates in her ruling, then another factor comes into play. That’s what they call strict scrutiny. The courts say that to create a Black District then “the state must demonstrate that it had a compelling governmental interest in creating a majority minority district and the redistricting plan was narrowly tailored to further that compelling interest”

    Yes 33% of the population in Louisiana is African American. But they don’t all live in a nice, neat district. In fact, to create this district, the state drew a map that snakes from Baton Rouge through Alexandria and up to Shreveport.

    Majority Black Map – proposed
    Almost immediately after the second Black District was approved by Judge Dick, a group filed a lawsuit. They claimed the new map failed the compactness and communities of interest test. Additionally, they claimed there was no real compelling reason to have a 2nd Black District since it violated the Equal Protection White voters in the state deserve.

    And two Trump appointed Western District Judges agreed and ruled the state must not use the new map with the second Black District. So, one federal court ruled that Louisiana has a second District. But another federal court ruled that Louisiana does not. Meanwhile, Louisiana must hold elections this fall.

    Louisiana Congressional Map
    The blue district labeled 6 is the current 2nd majority Black District
    So, the Supreme Court stepped in. It did not settle the big battle. The big battle is which federal court ruling stands? The order to create a second Black District or the order to keep the original maps. The Supreme Court simple ruled that messing with election maps during an election year is inappropriate. The court also said to move forward with the 2nd Black District for now.

    But the issue about the compactness and common interest still competes with the spread-out population of African Americans. Equal Protection versus Voting Rights. The Supreme Court must decide. But Louisiana has a 2nd Black District for now.

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