Later this month, the fight for genuine diversity and for equal electoral voting opportunity will continue when civil rights advocates go to trial against the governor and attorney general of Louisiana in federal court in Baton Rouge to challenge the use of at-large voting to elect judges of the 32nd Judicial District Court, the state court that covers Terrebonne Parish.
Although black residents constitute 20 percent of Terrebonne’s population, no black candidate who has faced opposition has ever been elected to the 32nd JDC (or any other at-large, parish-wide position), regardless of whether they have run as Democrats, Republicans or otherwise. As in many other parts of Louisiana, voting in Terrebonne is polarized along racial lines. By an overwhelming margin, white voters in Terrebonne steadfastly refuse to support the candidates of choice of black voters. As a result, black citizens in Terrebonne are still unable – in 2017 – to elect their preferred candidates to the 32nd JDC.
For more than two decades, lawyers, citizens and civil rights organizations in Terrebonne have advocated for legislation to provide black voters with the equal opportunity to elect their candidates of choice to the 32nd JDC. However, Louisiana lawmakers have rejected such proposals six straight times. Black voters have been left with no recourse but to go to federal court to vindicate their fundamental right to vote.
Marc Morial served as a Louisiana state senator from 1992-94, as mayor of New Orleans from 1994-2002, and is currently the CEO of the National Urban League.
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