Federal Court Strikes Down Louisiana’s New Congressional Map 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal court has struck down the congressional map intended to better represent Louisiana’s Black voters in compliance with the Voting Rights Act. The court found that the new map which was passed to remedy a Voting Rights Act violation, violates the Equal Protection Clause. A hearing will be held next week to discuss next steps for the state’s congressional plan. 

Today, in a 2-1 decision, a federal three-judge panel — composed of one Clinton and two Trump appointees — in Louisiana’s western district, struck down the state’s recently enacted congressional map for being an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. This is the latest setback in Louisiana voters’ long path to a fair congressional map, which first began in 2022. 

In response to the order, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder slammed the decision calling it “shameful” adding that it “unnecessarily puts Louisianians’ right to vote in a very precarious position.”

Last year, Louisiana was ordered to enact a map with two majority-Black districts after courts found that the state’s original map — which only had one majority-Black district — violated the Voting Rights Act. The state eventually adopted a plan in 2024 that would increase the Black makeup of the state’s 6th Congressional District — stretching from Shreveport to Baton Rouge that is currently held by U.S. Rep Garret Graves (R) — from 23% to 54%. 

Though the Republican-controlled Legislature overwhelmingly passed the now-struck down map, redistricting expert Dave Wasserman speculated that “Republicans drew an unnecessarily mangled #LA06 in hopes it would get struck down as a racial gerrymander, and this panel complied.” Wasserman added that the panel’s decision to strike the map down is a “big setback for the push for a second Black majority district in Louisiana.” 

In response to the state’s new, fair map with two majority-Black districts, voters who self-identified as “non-African American” quickly filed their own lawsuit hoping to block the map. Alleging that the new map was a racial gerrymander, the plaintiffs asked the court to block its use for 2024 elections. With the 2024 elections quickly approaching, the case went to trial in early April. 

In its order, the panel found that the new districts aimed at better representing the state’s Black population are racially gerrymandered. Black voters in Louisiana have been fighting for a fair congressional map for over two years and even voted under an illegal map in 2022. With the plan enacted at the beginning of 2024 blocked and unable to be used in any future elections, uncertainty surrounding the state’s 2024 congressional map remain.  

Louisiana needs a map by May 15, according to Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill (R), and will seek the U.S. Supreme Court’s review, noting that the current legal landscape “has made it impossible to not have federal judges drawing maps. It’s not right and they need to fix it.” 

The panel’s decision could impact other lawsuits in Louisiana. On May 1, Black voters asked a different court to reopen the original case they filed challenging Louisiana’s 2022 map. The voters argue that the court should reopen their case now that the map, which was a remedy to the original problem, has been blocked. 

Read the opinion here.

Learn more about the Callais case here.

Learn more about the Section 2 redistricting case here.

UPDATE: This post was updated on Wednesday, May 1 at 5:34 p.m. EDT to reflect reactions from Holder, Wasserman and Murrill as well as Black voters’ new motion in the district court.