May 7, 2024 - Politics

Federal judges reject Louisiana's latest congressional map

Animated illustration of Louisiana with red and blue districts in it changing shape.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A three-judge panel rejected Louisiana's recently redrawn congressional map last week, throwing a wrench into election planning for the fall.

Why it matters: The state's top elections official has said a map needs to be in place by May 15 in advance of November's elections, the Illuminator reports.

Catch up quick: Redistricting happens every 10 years when new census numbers are released, but the congressional map that Louisiana state lawmakers came up with in 2022 caught the attention of civil rights groups.

  • Those groups sued the state in federal court, arguing that the new map violated the Voting Rights Act by not fairly representing Black voters.
  • Black voters make up about a third of Louisiana's population, but only one of six districts was majority Black.
  • A federal judge sided with the civil rights groups, and ordered the state to redraw the maps.

Zoom in: The new map, created in January during the first special session of Gov. Jeff Landry's tenure, endangers Republican Rep. Garret Graves' hold of the 6th District.

The intrigue: It appears the civil rights groups and the state agree on one thing, and it's that the U.S. Supreme Court needs to weigh in.

  • The latest "decision creates chaos and confusion and is a slap in the face to Black voters who have already gone through one congressional election under a map that dilutes their votes," says Legal Defense Fund redistricting manager Stuart Naifeh, in a press release.
  • Meanwhile, Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill said on X last week that "I've said all along the Supreme Court needs to clear this up. The jurisprudence and litigation involving redistricting has made it impossible to not have federal judges drawing maps."

What we're watching: The panel of federal judges on Monday asked Louisiana Secretary of State Nancy Landry if May 15 is the absolute latest she'd need a map in hand to be ready for fall elections, the Shreveport Times reports.

  • The judges also floated using an alternative map, such as one prepared by a neutral party.
  • But it appears likely the U.S. Supreme Court will have to intervene eventually, Attorney General Liz Murrill said yesterday on X.
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