Black Louisiana Voters Ask US Supreme Court To Allow State To Use Struck Down Congressional Map

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Black Louisiana voters and civil rights organizations are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the state’s congressional map to remain in place while they appeal a lower court ruling that struck it down.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund and other attorneys filed an emergency application today seeking an expedited ruling from the Court. The request comes a day after the state attorney general filed her own appeal to the high Court, seeking to appeal the same lower court ruling that prohibits Louisiana from using its newly drawn map.

Justice Samuel Alito requested a response to the application by May 13, the Court docket shows.

The immediate issue for the plaintiffs is that the district court’s ruling left Louisiana without a congressional map in place for the 2024 elections. The state initially requested to have a suitable map by May 15, in order to have enough time to prepare for election season. “Time is of the essence,” Jared Evans, senior policy counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, told Democracy Docket last week. “The number one [priority] is to get a map in place.”

The Court application is the latest development in a yearslong saga over the makeup of Louisiana’s congressional districts. It began when Black voters and civil rights groups challenged a previous version of the map — which had only one majority-Black district — in 2022. The courts concluded that the original map violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

In January, the Legislature approved a new congressional map with two majority-Black districts, sending it to Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry (R) who signed it into law. The map increased the Black makeup of the state’s 6th Congressional District, stretching from Caddo Parish to East Baton Rouge Parish.

Shortly after, a group of 12 individuals who identified themselves as “non-African American voters,” filed a lawsuit against the state over the new map, alleging that it’s an unconstitutional racial gerrymander in violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments. A review of some of the plaintiffs’ social media accounts by Democracy Docket shows that at least a few of the individuals are white.

In its April 30 ruling, a three-judge panel held that the map violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund and a group of Black voters then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to review the decision. They also asked the federal court to pause its ruling that struck down the map, but that was denied last week.

Today’s petition states that the district court’s ruling preventing Louisiana from using the map deprives the Legislature of “the flexibility needed to remedy an identified VRA violation in accordance with” lawmakers’ policy priorities.

It also, the brief argues, leaves Louisiana “trapped between the competing hazards of liability under the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause.”

On Tuesday, that same federal district court laid out a schedule for implementing a new map. The court set a May 17 deadline for the parties to submit map proposals and a May 24 deadline for each party to respond. At the end of the month, on May 30, the court will hold a hearing in which parties will be allowed to make arguments.

In its order, the court states that the Louisiana Legislature is in session through June 3, during which lawmakers are allowed to enact a new congressional map. But while that’s pending, the court will also proceed with plans to draw a remedial map “to ensure that a compliant map is in place in time for the 2024 congressional election.”

“To be clear,” the three-judge panel writes, “the fact that the Court is proceeding with the remedial phase of this case does not foreclose the Louisiana Legislature from exercising its ‘sovereign interest’ by drawing a legally compliant map.”

Read the emergency application here.

Learn more about the decision striking down the map here.