U.S. Supreme Court Justices nix 2nd majority Black district in Louisiana for 2022
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday put on hold a lower court ruling that Louisiana must draw new congressional districts before the 2022 elections to increase Black voting power.
"Justice delayed is justice denied. I mean right now we're denying a sizable number of people in Louisana the opportunity to select the candidate of their choice," said State Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge.
With the three liberal justices dissenting, the high court short-circuited an order from a federal judge to create a second majority Black congressional district in Louisiana.
Republican State Sen. Sharon Hewitt previously told lawmakers she believed the original map worked for everyone.
"The map that we passed was the best representation of the state of Louisiana. The 14th amendment says you can not use race as a predominant reason for drawing a map," she said.
The state will hold elections this year under a congressional map adopted by its Republican-dominated legislature with white majorities in five of six districts.
The court’s action is similar to an order issued in February in Alabama that allowed the state to hold elections in 2022 under a map drawn by Alabama’s GOP-controlled legislature that contains one majority-Black district. Alabama has seven seats in the House of Representatives.
The justices are hearing arguments in the Alabama case in October. The Louisiana case will remain on hold under the court renders a decision on the Alabama case, the justices said.
Tuesday's Supreme Court ruling stops what was expected to happen Wednesday.
"I suppose that the court was going to issue a plan tomorrow and now the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court has said no just stand all, and we're going to decide a case before us before you do anything else," Fields said.
Fields, along with the other plaintiffs say Tuesday's ruling is not a total loss for their case.
"We will get our day in court, and I have no fear of that at all. I wish we could take the case to court today because the evidence is that strong," he said.
Fields issued a statement after the ruling.
"I am hopeful that when the court finally reviews the merits of this case, they will see that the facts are so strongly on the side of the plaintiffs that there will be no other way to rule than in favor of creating a second majority-black congressional district," Fields said.
Similarly, Governor John Bel Edwards shared the same sentiments as Fields in his statement Monday.
“Today’s ruling from the Supreme Court is more than a little disappointing. The District Court’s well-reasoned 157 page decision clearly demonstrated that the maps passed by the legislature do not comply with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Black Louisianans make up one third of our population, and one third of our districts should be majority Black when such a map can be drawn, and, as has been clearly demonstrated, that map is more compact, better adheres to the legal principles governing redistricting, and will perform. As I have always maintained, it is about simple math, basic fairness, and the rule of law," Edwards said.