State legislative redistricting trial begins
BATON ROUGE - If it sounds like déjà vu, it partially is.
US District Court Judge Shelly Dick has already determined that congressional maps in the state are unconstitutional and must be redrawn.
A new trial will determine if the same is true for state legislative seats.
Louisiana is 33 percent black, but black lawmakers comprise far less than one-third of the house and senate.
"That was one of the issues that we brought forward during the legislative session that we should draw maps that are fair and represent all of the people in the state and not have the federal court tell us we did it wrong and have to do it again," Senator Cleo Fields said.
Fields led efforts to get the maps redrawn last legislative session. He believes Judge Dick will rule the same way she did in the case involving the congressional districts.
The plaintiffs in this case are the NAACP, ACLU, Legal Defense Fund and four private citizens. The lead plaintiff lives in the capital area—in Assumption Parish.
What would a win for the plaintiffs mean?
"That's interesting. That's a very interesting question. The legal defense fund's position is if the lines are illegal or unconstitutional that all the elections should be thrown out, so the court could very well say, 'No you did it wrong you got to redo it.' I tend to think—I don't think the court will do that because that's going to be a pretty drastic move in my view, but the court certainly has the opportunity to do what it please."
Fields says what's more likely is Judge Dick will rule that the districts are illegal and have them re-drawn, but keep with the current elected officials until the next election cycle in four years.
WBRZ will have continuing coverage of the trial, which is slated to take seven days.
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