WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, Aug. 22, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled oral argument for Oct. 6 in an appeal of a case challenging Louisiana’s congressional map.
Louisiana’s congressional map — which was blocked in June 2022 for likely violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) — remains blocked as litigation continues. A different hearing from Oct. 3-5 in the district court will determine how the state’s likely Section 2 violation will be remedied and ultimately what congressional map will be in place for the 2024 elections.
The voters and civil rights organizations that brought the case against Louisiana’s congressional map argue that Black voters can only elect their candidate of choice in one of the state’s six congressional districts even though Black residents of Louisiana make up 33% of the total population and vote cohesively as a bloc. The lawsuit alleges that by failing to include a second minority-opportunity district, the map dilutes the voting strength of Black voters in violation of Section 2, a key portion of the VRA that prohibits any voting law, practice or map that results in the “denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.”
After the map was blocked last year, Louisiana officials appealed the decision and requested emergency relief from the U.S. Supreme Court, which issued a ruling via its shadow docket that reinstated the map for the 2022 midterm elections. The Court also paused the case until it made a decision in Allen v. Milligan — a similar case about Alabama’s congressional map involving Section 2 of the VRA.
Nearly a year later, on June 8, 2023, the Court issued its opinion in Allen, a landmark ruling upholding Section 2 of the VRA. Shortly after, the Court took a final administrative step to allow litigation in the Louisiana case to continue and most importantly, to reinstate the order blocking Louisiana’s congressional map.
With the case permitted to move forward, the 5th Circuit asked the parties to address whether the appeal of the order blocking the map back in June 2022 should continue in the 5th Circuit or whether the case should go back to the trial court for further proceedings. Both sides submitted briefing; the pro-voting parties argued that the case should stay in the 5th Circuit and proceed as usual and the anti-voting appellants argued that the case should be sent back to the trial court and the order blocking the map should be voided.
Today’s scheduling order sets oral argument scheduled for Oct. 6 and ensures that the state’s appeal of the order blocking Louisiana’s map will proceed in the 5th Circuit on a normal timeline.