Louisiana Appeals Congressional Map Decision to SCOTUS After Federal Court Sets Next Steps

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Louisianans may finally get new legislative and congressional maps this summer under two court orders that lay out a timeline for when compliant maps must be in place.

After a federal district court in Louisiana last week struck down the state’s congressional map, the same court today laid out the 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 today, 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.”

The order stems from a lawsuit filed in January by a group of 12 individuals who identified themselves as “non-African American voters.” A review of some of the plaintiffs’ social media accounts by Democracy Docket shows that at least a few of the individuals are white.

The complaint alleges that a congressional map that had recently been approved by the Louisiana Legislature is an unconstitutional racial gerrymander, in violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments. That map featured two majority-Black districts and increased the Black makeup of the state’s 6th Congressional District, stretching from Caddo Parish to East Baton Rouge Parish.

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.

In its order issued today, the court acknowledges the deadline requested by the Louisiana attorney general, who said that the state needs to have a congressional map in place by May 15 in order to adequately prepare before November. Dismayed by the court’s scheduling order today, the state attorney general swiftly appealed last week’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

But the district court notes that in a related case about the legislative maps, the state said during oral argument that the state “could be adequately prepared for that same November election … if they received a map by approximately the end of May.”

In the case over Louisiana’s legislative maps, a federal judge said the court will move forward with remedial proceedings if the Legislature fails to enact Voting Rights Act-compliant state House and Senate maps by the end of the session on June 3. 

This order comes after the plaintiffs in the case — a group of Black voters and civil rights groups — sued over Louisiana’s legislative maps in 2022, alleging the maps violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The court later struck down the maps in February.

Read the district court order in the congressional case here.

Learn more about the decision striking down the congressional map here.