Supreme Court Allows Second Majority-Black District in Louisiana Amid Liberal Dissent

The Supreme Court has given the green light for Louisiana to use a new congressional map in this year’s elections, creating a second majority-Black district. This decision, announced in a brief order, came despite objections from the court’s three liberal justices.

The ruling is likely to make one of Louisiana’s six congressional districts more competitive for Democrats, which could be significant given the slim Republican majority in the US House of Representatives.

Louisiana State Senator Cleo Fields, a Democrat running in the new Black-majority district, welcomed the ruling, saying it provides clarity for the state’s congressional lines. Similarly, Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill, a Republican, appreciated the decision for ensuring a stable election season.

Black residents make up about a third of Louisiana’s population, yet currently, only one of the six congressional districts is represented by a Black lawmaker, who is also the sole Democrat. The court’s decision may also influence future redistricting battles.

Louisiana officials had urged the Supreme Court to apply the Purcell principle, a doctrine used to avoid last-minute changes to election laws. The court’s order cited Purcell but did not elaborate on its reasoning. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, in her dissent, argued that it was too early for the Supreme Court to intervene, suggesting that the lower courts or the state legislature should have finished the redistricting process.

The new district map stretches from Shreveport in the northwest to Baton Rouge in the southeast, making a district where Black residents make up 54% of the voters, a significant increase from the previous 24%.

The case has attracted attention from civil rights groups and election experts because of its potential national impact. The new map could boost Democratic representation but also raises deeper questions about how race should be considered in redistricting.

Louisiana found itself between conflicting lower court orders—one claiming the state likely violated the Voting Rights Act by having only one majority-Black district, and another arguing the creation of a second majority-Black district was unconstitutional. This led to a complex legal battle involving various voter groups, including Black voters seeking better representation and White Republicans challenging the new map on the grounds of racial stigmatization.

The Supreme Court’s decision temporarily resolves this issue, allowing the new map to be used in the upcoming elections. Michael McClanahan, president of the NAACP Louisiana State Conference, praised the ruling as a step toward fairer representation and expressed hope for positive changes in the future.

Attorneys opposing the new map are confident they will ultimately prevail if the Supreme Court hears an appeal on the merits, arguing that the map is a racial gerrymander.

In summary, the Supreme Court’s approval of the new congressional map in Louisiana is a significant development in the ongoing debate over voting rights and redistricting, with potential implications that extend beyond the state.

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