Federal Judge Strikes Down Louisiana State House and Senate Districts

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last night, a federal judge struck down Louisiana’s state House and Senate maps for violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.  

The decision, authored by Obama appointee Shelly Dick, comes after a seven-day trial held at the end of last year. In March 2022, Black voters and civil rights groups filed this lawsuit challenging the state’s legislative districts arguing that they dilute the voting power of Black voters in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. 

Over the course of litigation, Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin argued that Section 2 of the VRA is unconstitutional, which prompted intervention by the U.S. Department of Justice in December of last year. Ultimately, in yesterday’s decision, the court rejected Ardoin’s challenge to the constitutionality of Section 2. 

In a 91 page order, the judge struck down the state’s House and Senate districts after finding that “the Enacted State House and Senate Maps in the areas of the illustrative districts, are dilutive of Black voting strength and violative of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.” This is a victory for Black voters in the state who will have new legislative districts that will give them the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice in additional House and Senate districts. 

According to the order the court will give the state a “reasonable period of time” to draw maps that remedy these Section 2 violations. While the order did not explicitly state how many majority-Black districts the state should add, the court did conclude that the plan offered by the plaintiffs which adds six majority-Black seats in the House and three in the Senate “demonstrates that additional reasonably configured majority minority districts can be created.” 

This decision comes after the Louisiana Legislature recently redrew the state’s congressional map to include an additional majority Black district after courts found and affirmed that the state’s congressional map likely violated Section 2 of the VRA in a separate lawsuit. Louisiana will have new congressional and state legislative districts that better represent the state’s Black voters. 

Read the order here.

Learn more about the case here.