WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Louisiana’s bid to temporarily halt a district court ruling that had required the state to redraw its new congressional map to comply with the Voting Rights Act. Justices Sotomayor, Breyer, and Kagan dissented from the stay. During a week-long hearing last month, Judge Dick of the Middle District of Louisiana heard from Black Louisianans who testified that the state had ignored the needs of their communities and their demands for fair representation, and from political scientists and demographic experts who explained how the map reduced the influence of Black voters in congressional elections. Judge Dick 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. Today’s Supreme Court decision means the map will be used for upcoming elections, overriding the decisions of the two lower courts.
The lawsuit challenging the map was brought by the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, and nine individual voters, who are represented by the Legal Defense Fund (LDF), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Louisiana, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, and Louisiana lawyers John Adcock and Tracie Washington. The lawsuit was filed immediately after the Louisiana Legislature voted on March 30, 2022, to overturn Governor John Bel Edwards’ veto of the congressional plan passed by the legislature in February.
The following are reactions to today’s Supreme Court ruling:
“Right now, we are deferred but not defeated,” said Power Coalition President and Founder Ashley Shelton. “This moment is disheartening. It’s not what we were hoping for, but we will continue to fight for equity and justice in Louisiana. The people in our state need a map that will provide fair representation, so we will wait. While we wait, we will continue to fight to mobilize our communities so all Black voters can be heard.”
“The Supreme Court’s decision is heartbreaking because it means Black voters in Louisiana won’t get the emergency relief we deserve,” said Mike McClanahan, President of the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP. “This congressional map will deeply influence the upcoming election and hurt Black voters’ chances of electing our preferred candidates. Getting lawmakers to fulfill their duty and draw equitable maps should not be this hard. Fair elections should be a given, and we will continue to fight for that promise.”
“The Supreme Court’s unwarranted decision is a blow to justice and fair representation that Black Louisianans have long fought for,” said Stuart Naifeh, Manager of LDF’s Redistricting Project. “Two courts have looked at the facts and agree that Louisiana’s congressional map violates the Voting Rights Act, and that using it in the upcoming election will rob Black voters of their right to participate in the political process on an equal footing. The Voting Rights Act was created precisely to prevent the kind of manipulation of district lines to undermine the voices and power of Black people that we see in Louisiana. But let us be clear: the fight for racial justice and equality in Louisiana is far from over. Black Louisianans deserve congressional representatives who hear and understand their needs and concerns. Anything less is simply unacceptable.”
“To live up to the tenets of a representative democracy, the Louisiana congressional map must reflect the richly diverse population it serves,” said Alora Thomas, Senior Staff Attorney of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “We won’t stop fighting in court until Louisiana has a fair congressional map.”
Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. 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 Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that 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.