Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Louisiana lawmakers approve a new congressional map with a second majority-Black district

By 37ci3 Jan20,2024

Louisiana lawmakers approved a new congressional map on Friday, drawing a second majority — Black district — to comply with a court order.

A federal court ruled in 2022 that Louisiana’s Republican-controlled Legislature illegally disenfranchised black voters in the state’s previous redistricting plan. After more than a year of appeals and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling forcing a new map in a similar case in Alabama, state lawmakers began redrawing Louisiana’s map this week.

The state is about one-third black, but five of the state’s six congressional districts are majority white. Louisiana’s majority-black 2nd District is currently represented by Democrat Rep. Troy Carter.

The new map would drop the black voting-age population in Carter’s district to 51%, while drawing the new 6th Congressional District as a narrow strip through the center of the state from Shreveport to Baton Rouge. That district will have a 53% voting-age black population.

GOP Rep. Garret Graves represents the current iteration of Louisiana’s 6th District, which has a 23% voting-age black population.

The new map now goes to Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry, a Republican, for his signature. The newly sworn-in governor pledged support for the map earlier this week.

“These maps will satisfy the court and ensure that our state’s congressional districts are drawn in this Legislature, not by some heavy-handed federal judge,” Landry said in a speech Tuesday.

Republican state Sen. Glenn Womack, who sponsored the map, said on the floor of the state House that the map creates two districts with a majority of black voters while intentionally protecting the safe Republican districts of U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson. Steve Scalise and Julia Letlow, the first Republican woman elected to the state House of Representatives.

“If we don’t act, it’s very clear that a federal court will apply the plaintiff’s proposed map to our state, and we don’t want that,” Womack told state House lawmakers Friday afternoon.

The map was adopted after a tumultuous week with hours of delays to hearings and scheduled votes as state lawmakers and stakeholders engaged in heated negotiations over the maps.

Carter’s allies lobbied aggressively to retain more black voters in the district, but failed Friday when House lawmakers pulled the amendment from the bill and then immediately voted to pass it, a source familiar with the negotiations said.

“Everybody likes to eat sausage, but nobody wants to see how it’s made. And it’s been painful, and it’s been painful for all of us, but it’s simple: we’re under the mandate of a federal judge,” Republican state Rep. Beau Beaulieu IV said on the floor Friday afternoon.

In an interview shortly before the map passed, Davante Lewis, the state’s Democratic Civil Service Commissioner and a plaintiff challenging the maps, criticized Carter and said he was trying to “torpedo” the map to prevent a white, progressive candidate from getting it. his seat.

In an interview shortly before the bill passed, Carter rejected the idea and said he was trying to ensure that Black lawmakers were elected.

“I’m not sure where he got that from or why he thought it was, it’s taking advantage of a historic opportunity to create two African-American congressional seats,” he said, defending lawmakers’ right to negotiate for preferred maps. “Who knows the regions better than the people involved? “Of course, I struggled to answer questions and share my thoughts.”

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By 37ci3

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