The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that Louisiana had engaged in “racial gerrymandering” in drawing its map of voting districts, and must therefore redraw its congressional map by Jan. 15.
The court found in its decision that Louisiana’s original map, which the state legislature created in 2021, had been strategically drawn to prevent black voters from having a majority in five of the state’s six voting districts. Although Louisiana argued that drawing voting districts based on race violates the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment, the court ruled that the state must redraw its districts to have more “racial proportionality,” finding that the state had violated the Supreme Court’s June 8 decision which requires states to consider race when redrawing districts.
“A racial gerrymander is present when citizens are assigned by the state to legislative districts based on race, such that one district will have racially similar individuals who otherwise have little in common geographically or politically,” the Fifth Circuit wrote in its decision. “The Supreme Court has implemented a high bar to racial gerrymander challenges … We find that this high bar was not met on this record. Rather, race was properly considered by the Plaintiff experts when drawing their several illustrative maps.”
BREAKING: In Louisiana’s congressional redistricting case, a 5th Circuit panel has given the state’s legislature until Jan. 15, 2024, to draw a new map after concluding a lower court correctly ruled the previous map likely violated the Voting Rights Acthttps://t.co/i7bnu167Qr pic.twitter.com/F32hIpr7T7
— Hansi Lo Wang (he/him) (@hansilowang) November 10, 2023
The court ruled that Louisiana will have until Jan. 15 to submit a redrawn map that contains two black-majority districts. If the state does not do so by the deadline, a district court will redraw the map without any input from the legislature.
An additional black-majority district may flip a congressional district from Republican to Democrat, potentially eliminating the Republicans’ slim majority in the House, according to The New York Times.
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