The Supreme Court on Tuesday (June 28) approved the use of Louisiana’s Republican-drawn congressional map for the upcoming midterm elections that a lower court judge said would likely discriminate against Black voters.
A final ruling is on hold until the justices decide a similar case from Alabama, The New York Times reported. But the decision, which the three liberal justices opposed, appears to frustrate the Democrats’ efforts to keep control of the House of Representatives and threatens the Voting Rights Act.
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed the legislature’s map in March “because it does not include a second majority African American district, despite Black voters making up almost a third of Louisianans per the latest U.S. Census data.” But the Republican legislature overrode his veto.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Shelley Dick ordered Louisiana’s GOP-led legislature to redraw the map because it appeared to violate requirements of the Voting Rights Act. The Obama-appointed Baton Rouge-based judge found that the map packed Black voters into a single district and then distributes the remaining Black voters among five other districts.
Upon appeal, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately sided with Louisiana Democrats on June 12 and authorized a special session to redraw the congressional map. “This is a big step in the right direction for the people of Louisiana,” Edwards said in reaction to the court’s opinion, according to the Associated Press.
According to the Times, the high court’s reversal on Tuesday of the circuit court’s ruling was a response to Louisiana’s emergency application in which the justices typically don’t explain their reasoning behind the decision.
The Louisiana and Alabama cases center on Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act in the context of redistricting. Section 2 outlaws voting procedures that “results in a denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race.”
Reuters reports that the high court scheduled arguments in the Alabama case for Oct. 4, and a ruling is expected by the end of June 2023. The right-wing majority could deliver a decision that makes it harder for courts to consider race when determining whether an electoral district map violates the Voting Rights Act.