WASHINGTON, D.C. — Late last night, a lawsuit was filed in state court over Louisiana’s failure to enact a new congressional map following the release of 2020 census data. The suit, brought on behalf of a group of voters, was filed soon after Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) vetoed the new map that was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Despite efforts by Democrats and civil rights groups to draw additional minority seats, the new map does not include a second majority-Black district out of six total districts, despite the fact that one-third of Louisiana’s population is Black. In a press release explaining his veto, Edwards stated that the new congressional map “is simply not fair to the people of Louisiana and does not meet the standards set forth in the federal Voting Rights Act.” Edwards let the new legislative maps become law without his signature, stating that, along with the congressional map, he does not believe the new legislative maps “do anything to increase the number of districts where minority voters can elect candidates of their choosing.”
It’s unclear if Republicans have the votes to override Edwards’ veto of the congressional map — Republicans have a supermajority in the state Senate but not in the state House. Given this impasse and the fast approaching 2022 elections, the plaintiffs ask the court to implement a new map using 2020 census data that accurately reflects the state’s population and adheres to the constitutional requirement of one person, one vote. They argue 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. This is the second impasse case filed in Louisiana this redistricting cycle; a lawsuit filed in April 2021 immediately after the release of 2020 census data was dismissed last month after it was found to be filed in the wrong venue.