The Supreme Court will allow the state of Louisiana’s congressional district map to remain in place through the November midterm elections.
By a 6-3 count on Tuesday, the concurring opinions — crafted by Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh — essentially froze a lower court’s ruling in the case, with the high court determining it would wait to act on the merits of a similar legal dispute in Alabama before deciding on the Louisiana matter.
Regarding that dispute, back in February and by a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court permitted a congressional map drawn by Alabama Republicans to remain intact, placing a temporary hold on the lower court’s ruling blocking the map.
The arguments with the Alabama case begin Oct. 4.
In March, the Republican-controlled Louisiana Legislature overrode Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto of Louisiana’s redistricting plan.
The now-accepted map had retained the GOP’s advantage in five of the state’s six congressional districts, keeping the 2nd District — which stretches from Baton Rouge to New Orleans — as the only majority-black district, and the only congressional area to favor Democrats.
On June 6, Judge Shelly Dick of U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana ordered the state Legislature to add a second majority-black district — citing Louisiana’s “repugnant history” of racial discrimination.
A federal appeals court then scheduled expedited hearings for July 8; but that process never got off the ground.
Instead, shortly after the judge’s determination, Louisiana asked the Supreme Court to step in and resolve the situation.
By requesting that the high court freeze the lower court’s opinion, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican, argued that the state’s congressional boundaries cannot be drawn to create two majority-black districts without “segregating the races for purposes of voting” in violation of court precedent.
Landry also reasoned that reconfiguring the maps would toss the state “into divisive electoral pandemonium” by throwing the election process into chaos, creating confusion statewide and undermining the “confidence in the integrity of upcoming congressional elections.”
“It is impossible to draw a map without prioritizing race as the predominant factor in order to generate a second majority-minority district, which federal courts have cautioned Louisiana not to do in the past,” Landry told the justices in court papers.
Lawyers for the Louisiana state conference of the NAACP dismissed the notion of not having enough time to reconstitute the maps.
Citing court papers. the NAACP echoed Judge Dick’s assertion that “a remedial congressional plan can be implemented in advance of the 2022 election without excessive difficult or risk of voter confusion.”