WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Louisiana Senate, in a 27-11 vote, has overwhelmingly advanced a proposed congressional map that would create an additional majority-Black district after being ordered to do so by a court order.
The map, which is supported by Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry (R), would increase the Black makeup of a 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 district would span more than 200 miles in length.
In June 2022, a federal court struck down the state’s current congressional map 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 for a new map that the Legislature is now working to meet.
Though the map was heralded by Landry and supported by a wide swath of Republicans in the Senate, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) has slammed the proposal partly for raw political reasons, writing that the map requires the “surrender of a Republican seat in Congress.” Graves, unsurprisingly, has also spoken out against the proposal, claiming “there is no consideration where this map is in the best interests of the State of Louisiana.”
Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Troy Carter (D), the only Black congressperson from Louisiana, sent a letter urging the Legislature “to do the right thing” and stating that he is “willing to work with anyone to produce a constitutional map creating two majority-minority districts that give Black candidates a meaningful opportunity to win.”
A special session ordered by Landry is running until Jan. 23 in order for legislators to enact maps. Landry is also asking the Legislature to consider major changes to the state’s Supreme Court map during the special session. If a new congressional map is not adopted by the Jan. 30 deadline, a trial on the existing map will be held in the district court. Similarly, if the plaintiffs — composed of voters and civil rights groups — object to a plan approved by the Legislature, the district court will determine if that map is compliant with the Voting Rights Act.
The proposal now heads to the Louisiana House for further consideration. A separate proposal that would also add a second majority-Black district advanced out of a House committee earlier today.