(Adds a new 7th graf with comments from a letter from the governor to state legislative leaders)
A congressional redistricting plan retaining just one majority-Black district in Louisiana appears likely to hold through at least the 2022 midterm elections.
Republican legislative leaders expect the challenge to the map they crafted to follow the same path as a similar case in Alabama, where the US Supreme Court stayed an order for two majority-Black districts to be drawn in the months leading up to an election, according to a court filing.
State Republicans won an administrative stay late Thursday from the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, temporarily blocking a judge’s order that Louisiana should redraw its new congressional map to include a second majority-Black district. That stay will likely be appealed to the high court, where Republicans predict it will be upheld.
Lawmakers were given until June 20 to come up with a new map under a June 6 order—blocked by the Fifth Circuit—from Chief District Judge Shelly Dick of the US District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.
Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) had called for a special session starting June 15 to redraw the map. He should rescind that call, Senate President Page Cortez and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder said Friday.
“Before the judicial redistricting process is complete, any special session would be premature and a waste of taxpayer money,” they said in a joint statement.
Edwards said in a letter Friday to House and Senate leaders that he believes the Legislature “can and should meet next week to enact maps that create a second majority minority district.” He noted that he hoped the Fifth Circuit would vacate the stay. If it remains, he said, he agrees that further legislative action should be delayed until the Fifth Circuit “can review the merits” of Dick’s decision.
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The GOP-led Legislature in March narrowly voted to override Edwards’ veto and keep a congressional map with a single majority-Black district.
Roughly a third of Louisiana’s residents are Black. Edwards and other Democrats pushed for a second majority-Black district within the state’s six-seat US House delegation.
“The Court finds that Black representation under the enacted plan is not proportional to the Black share of population in Louisiana,” Dick said in her now blocked order granting a preliminary injunction.
The state’s Republican leaders asked for the stay of Dick’s order. “To conduct the 2022 election with two majority-Black districts would risk a widespread equal-protection violation,” they said in a filing.
The case is Robinson v. Ardoin, 5th Cir., No. 22-30333.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Kay in Miami at firstname.lastname@example.org