US Supreme Court Allows Louisiana to Use Congressional Map With Two Majority-Black Districts

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court granted requests from both the state and Black Louisiana voters and civil rights organizations to allow Louisiana’s new congressional map to remain in place while they appeal a lower court ruling that struck it down.

Today’s decision means that the state will have a congressional map it can legally use by May 15, which is when the state says it needs to have a map in place in order to have enough time to prepare for the November general election. The congressional map features two majority-Black districts.

The decision was a 6-3 split, with Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan saying they would have denied the application, and Ketanji Brown Jackson dissenting.

It comes after both the state and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (on behalf of Black voters) filed emergency applications last week seeking to pause the federal district court’s ruling and allow the state to proceed with its congressional map.

On Monday, the plaintiffs in a lawsuit that led to the map being blocked filed a response to the emergency application, urging the Court to deny the request. Those plaintiffs, a group of 12 individuals who identified themselves as “non-African American voters,” alleged in their January lawsuit that the new congressional map, which features two majority-Black districts, is an unconstitutional racial gerrymander in violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments.

The federal district court agreed that the map was an unconstitutional racial gerrymander, and struck the map down on April 30.

The district court’s decision sent both the state and civil rights groups scrambling to ensure that the state has a suitable congressional map in place, after roughly two years of litigation over a previous version of the map.

Black voters and civil rights groups challenged the previous version — H.B. 1, which had only one majority-Black district — in 2022. The courts later concluded that the original map violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. In January, the Legislature approved a new congressional map with two majority-Black districts, sending it to Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry (R) who signed it into law.

Last week, before the Court’s ruling, the same federal district court in Louisiana that struck down the new congressional map — S.B. 8 — laid out a 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. The court also scheduled a hearing at the end of the month, May 30, for parties to make arguments.

In their emergency application to the Supreme Court, attorneys for Louisiana Secretary of State Nancy Landry and state Attorney General Elizabeth Murrill — both Republicans — stated that if the secretary of state does not have a map by May 15, “the only map that could be feasibly implemented after May 15 (and avoid election chaos) is the H.B. 1 map, which remains in the State’s voter-registration system.” 

Read the U.S. Supreme Court decision here.

Learn more about the case here.