Louisiana Passes Bill Creating Second Majority-Black District

Louisiana Passes Bill Creating Second Majority-Black District

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The new 6th District will have a black voting age of 53 percent.

Louisiana state House lawmakers passed a bill on Friday that would create a new congressional map with a second majority-black district to comply with a court order.

The bill will now head to the desk of Republican Gov. Jeff Landry for signing.

“The outcome of this special session is a win for the people of Louisiana,“ Mr. Landry said in a statement on Friday. ”We have finally taken the pen out of the hand of a federal judge and placed it back in the people of this state to draw our congressional maps,” he added.

U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick, an appointee of President Barack Obama, ruled in 2022 that the previous map was in violation of the Voting Rights Act and ordered the legislature to redraw it or she would.

State lawmakers began redrawing Louisiana’s congressional map this week following a year of appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court declining to intervene in the matter.

Last week, state legislators presented three proposals for a second majority-black district. Among these proposals, the one by state Sen. Glen Womack (R-Harrisonburg) was favored the most.

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The new map proposed by Mr. Womack draws a narrow backslash through the center of the state along the Red River, from Shreveport to Baton Rouge.

The state’s 2nd District, represented by Rep. Troy Carter, a Democrat, will see the black voting age reduced to 51 percent.

The new 6th District will have a black voting age of 53 percent.

Mr. Womack said that this will safeguard the districts for Louisiana Republican U.S. Reps. Steve Scalise, Julia Letlow, and Mike Johnson, the House speaker.

However, the new map may result in Louisiana sending a second Democrat to the U.S. Congress if Republican Rep. Garrett Graves loses his Baton Rouge seat.

Louisiana’s voting-age population is one-third black, with the majority in one of the state’s six districts.

State officials in Louisiana were sued in 2022 over a congressional map approved by Republicans in the state legislature that they argued diluted their voting power and violated the Voting Rights Act.

Ashley Shelton, executive director of the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, a plaintiff in the case said, “We are so excited, as a plaintiff in this case, to stand here today and have the people’s voice prevail and realize the second minority district,” reported the Louisiana Illuminator.

Louisiana lawmakers were obligated to revise the state’s congressional map by federal mandate after Judge Dick’s ruling in 2022.

Shortly after taking the governor’s office last October, Mr. Landry called for a special legislative session in order to redraw the map.

The following month, a federal appeals court set a deadline of mid-January for the state legislature to create a new congressional map.

The new map is the latest development in a long-standing legal dispute that involved a lower court ruling that the current map unfairly weakened the voting power of black voters.

Last June, a federal court judge invalidated Louisiana’s new six-district congressional map and ordered the state to redraw it. The judge directed the state to add a second majority-black district.

At the time, Mr. Landry, who was then the state’s attorney general, said the judge “erred” in her ruling and swiftly filed an appeal.

The U.S. Supreme Court later ruled on June 26, 2023, that another map may have to be redrawn. This ruling meant that the case was able to proceed to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ahead of the 2024 elections.

Electoral districts in the United States are redrawn every ten years to reflect changes in population, as determined by the national census. This process is typically carried out by the political party in power, which can result in gerrymandering for partisan advantage.

Democrats have accused Republicans of using their majority in state legislatures to draw electoral maps that weaken the influence of black and other minority voters. Republicans, on the other hand, argue that race should not be a significant factor in redistricting.

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