WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Nov. 17, a Louisiana state court denied an attempt to dismiss a case challenging the state’s current congressional map following the release of 2020 census data. Although the Louisiana Legislature is tasked with drawing new redistricting maps, there is almost no chance the current body will be able to implement a new congressional map in time for the 2022 elections. The Legislature is controlled by Republicans but the state’s governor is a Democrat, making agreement on any new map very unlikely. As such, this case argues that it is the court’s role to step in and ensure a new map is in place before the next time voters head to the polls. Otherwise, Louisiana voters will be forced to vote in unconstitutionally malapportioned districts given population shifts over the past decade.
The defendants sought to dismiss this impasse litigation, arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case because the plaintiffs brought forth a claim that was “speculative” (since the Legislature had not yet failed to pass new maps) and involved matters exclusive to the legislative and executive branches of Louisiana’s government. The court disagreed with the defendants’ arguments, finding that “challenges to redistricting laws may be brought immediately upon release of official data showing district imbalance before reapportionment occurs in accordance with” prior case law. The court also rejected the defendants’ argument that the plaintiffs had filed the case in the wrong Louisiana state court, holding that where they filed is “proper.”