In March 2022, LDF filed a lawsuit challenging discriminatory redistricting maps passed by the Louisiana legislature. The lawsuit argues that the maps dilute the voting power of Black Louisianans and violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by failing to add a second majority-Black district. The maps severely dilute Black voting power by packing Black voters from New Orleans and Baton Rouge into a single U.S. congressional district. The maps were vetoed by Louisiana Governor Bel Edwards, but the legislature voted to overturn the veto.
LDF, the ACLU, ACLU of Louisiana, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, and individuals Press Robinson, Dorothy Nairne, E. René Soulé, Alice Washington, and Clee Ernest Lowe.
On June 6, 2022, the maps were blocked by a federal judge who ruled that the map was racially discriminatory and likely violated the Voting Rights Act, and a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans agreed. The ruling required legislators to draw a new map with two majority-Black districts to be used during upcoming elections, while litigation continues. On June 28, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Louisiana’s bid to temporarily halt a district court ruling, and reinstated the discriminatory maps for the upcoming election season.
On June 26, 2023, the Supreme Court lifted the temporary halt, allowing the case to proceed in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in advance of the 2024 congressional elections in Louisiana. The decision came after the court ruled favorably in Allen v. Milligan, reaffirming the legal framework that guides courts in evaluating challenges to redistricting plans under Section 2.
On November 11, 2023, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court that the congressional map enacted by the Louisiana Legislature following the 2020 census is discriminatory and likely violates the federal Voting Rights Act. The appeals court set out a timeline for the state Legislature to adopt a new map. If it does not do so or if it adopts a map that continues to violate the Voting Rights Act, the Fifth Circuit’s decision instructs the lower court to promptly conduct a trial and adopt an appropriate remedial map.
The voting-age population in Louisiana is nearly one-third Black. Under the Legislature’s proposed map, Black Louisianans comprise the majority in only one of the state’s six congressional districts, and candidates supported by Black voters are routinely outvoted in the five other districts. The result is underrepresentation of Black voters in Louisiana’s congressional delegation, with Black voters having an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice in only one of the six congressional districts (i.e., 16.7% of the districts). At the same time, Louisiana’s white population is vastly overrepresented. While only 58% of Louisiana’s population is non-Hispanic white, white voters control the outcome in five out of six (83.3%) districts under the maps. That control has meant that no Black candidate has won election to any of those seats since Reconstruction.
LDF and coalition partners have been deeply involved in the redistricting process in Louisiana and other key states to prevent discriminatory redistricting plans and ensure legislatures comply with their obligations under the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution. LDF and the coalition have submitted several maps, testified before the Legislature, and sent multiple letters to legislators throughout the process. Learn more about LDF’s redistricting work in Louisiana and other states here.