WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yesterday evening, Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry (R) signed a bill creating a new congressional map for the state featuring two majority-Black districts, ending a nearly two year saga over adequate Black representation in the Pelican State.
The map increases the Black makeup of the state’s 6th Congressional District — stretching from Caddo Parish to East Baton Rouge Parish that is currently held by U.S. Rep Garret Graves (R) — from 23% to 54%, almost certainly taking out the Republican and netting Democrats an additional seat in Congress. The new district spans more than 200 miles in length.
The Louisiana Legislature was thrown into the map drawing process in June 2022 when a federal court struck down the state’s congressional map drawn with 2020 census data for violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by illegally diluting Black voting power, and ordered the creation of a second majority-Black district. The decision had been paused for a year until June 2023, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Section 2 in the landmark case out of Alabama, Allen v. Milligan, and also reinstated the order blocking Louisiana’s map. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently set a Jan. 30 deadline that the Legislature was able to meet.
Introduced in the Senate by Sen. Glen Womack (R), the map cleared the chamber last Wednesday in a 27-11 vote. A House committee then adopted an amendment significantly altering the map, however the full House voted to strike down the amendment and pass the original Senate proposal in a landslide 86-16 vote. After the full Senate concurred with the House amendments late Friday afternoon, Landry’s signature was the last step in the process.
Though the map was supported by the vast majority of Louisiana Republicans, Graves unsurprisingly spoke out against the map, calling the change a “boneheaded move.” He has vowed to run for reelection despite the changes to his district. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R), who is from Louisiana, also railed against the proposal for the “surrender of a Republican seat in Congress.” Republicans are already nursing an extremely tight U.S. House majority, and the seemingly inevitable swing of the seat makes their efforts to control the chamber only that much more difficult.
Democrats and voting rights advocates also hailed the map’s passage. Rep. Troy Carter (D-La.), the state’s only Black member of Congress, praised the passage of the map, saying that the changes pave “the way for generations of change-makers in our great state for years to come.” Elias Law Group partner Abha Khanna, who served as lead counsel for the voters challenging the state’s previous map, similarly claimed that the passage is “a historic moment for Louisiana, which will now have an additional congressional district in which Black Louisianans have the opportunity to elect their preferred candidates to the U.S. House of Representatives.”
Mitchell Brown, senior counsel for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, highlighted to Democracy Docket how Black Louisianans have “made their voices heard and fought in court, in the legislature, and in communities across the state, demanding fair and equitable representation in Congress.”
Louisiana Rep. Matthew Willard, vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, noted to Democracy Docket that “[a]pproximately one-third of Louisiana’s population is black. Yet, only one-sixth of our State’s congressional districts were majority-minority, which denied African-American voters an opportunity to select the candidate of their choice.” He added that the map “will help right generations of discrimination and move our state forward.”
Suzan DelBene, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, described the new map as “a much-needed victory for democracy” that leaves them “confident that come November, we will welcome a new Democrat from Louisiana.”
Peter Robins-Brown, the executive director of Louisiana Progress, also told Democracy Docket that while “it’s unfortunate that it took such an arduous fight to get here…Louisiana’s leaders finally did the right thing by creating a second majority-minority congressional district for the state.”
Louisiana’s redraw process was part of a special session called by Landry in which the governor also asked the Legislature to consider changes to the state’s primary system as well as the state’s Supreme Court map. Legislators ultimately failed to make changes to the map, though the Legislature did eliminate open primaries for certain elections.
Last updated on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 11:59 a.m. EST