Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (“LDF”) submitted written testimony to the Louisiana House Government Affairs Committee in support of a proposal in Senate Bill 163 to include a constitutional amendment on the October 9, 2021 ballot to expand the size of the Louisiana Supreme Court from seven members to nine members, each elected from one district (“single-member district”). However, the implementation of the expansion should not be delayed until 2025, as is currently proposed in the bill. The decisions made by the Louisiana Supreme Court have profound consequences for all Louisianans, and it is critical that communities of color are represented. The Louisiana Supreme Court has expansive jurisdiction to review judgments of the courts of appeal in every civil and criminal action filed in state court in Louisiana, which is where the vast majority of cases are heard. It is possible to draw three single-member districts, in which Black voters comprise the majority, in a Supreme Court map with nine single-member districts, while preserving substantial equality of population in all nine single-member districts and satisfying other criteria. The Legislature has an affirmative obligation to ensure that new districts drawn comply with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (“Section 2”), which the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled applies to the Louisiana Supreme Court districts, as well as to comply with other legal requirements. Under Section 2, the Legislature must ensure that Black and other voters of color have an equal opportunity “to participate in the political process and elect candidates of their choice” where the demographics, voting patterns, and other circumstances are present.
Read the full testimony here.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.