Lawsuit filed to challenge Congress redistricting map in Louisiana veto override

By: - March 30, 2022 5:18 pm

Only a couple of hours after the Louisiana Legislature voted to override Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto of a congressional map that didn’t expand minority representation, a lawsuit has been filed that claims the map violates federal law.

A statement from NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund said a lawsuit has been filed in federal court in Baton Rouge to stop Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, the state’s top election official, from recognizing the maps for this fall’s congressional elections. Other plaintiffs include the American Civil Liberties Union, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice and five individual voters.

“The Congressional map passed by the Louisiana Legislature in February rejected basic principles of fairness and equity,”  NAACP Louisiana State Conference president Michael McClanahan said in the statement. “The Legislature knew that they could pass a map that complied with the Voting Rights Act and honored the will of community members who stood up and spoke out for fair maps during the redistricting process. When they failed to, the governor rightfully vetoed their unlawful and unfair map. We are going to federal court to demand a map that honors the rights and representation of Black Louisianans. We will be tireless in this fight.”

“People from every corner of Louisiana made their voices heard in the redistricting process in a unified call for fair and representative maps,” said Ashley Shelton, President and CEO of Power Coalition for Equity and Justice. “They demanded a second majority-Black Congressional district because the math is simple, and the law is clear. One-third of Louisiana voters are Black. One-third of six is two. The Voting Rights Act requires that Black voters have an equal opportunity to participate in our political processes, and our maps must reflect this. The Governor did the right thing by vetoing the map and we hope the courts will now intervene to right the wrongs of the Legislature. The People of Louisiana deserve maps that represent all of us and no longer drown out the voices of Black voters.”

“The map vetoed by the Governor was unlawful and unfair,” LDF Policy Counsel Jared Evans said in the statement. “It clearly violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by diluting the voices of Louisiana’s one-third Black voting population. The Legislature never should have passed an unlawful map, and we will not rest until a fair and representative map is enforced for the voters of Louisiana.”

“Black Louisianans deserve fair and equal representation. It is unconscionable that the Louisiana legislature is so determined to preserve the racial status quo that they issued just the third veto override in the state’s history rather than take the opportunity to draw a fair map,” said Stuart C. Naifeh, LDF’s Manager of the Redistricting Project.

“We are challenging these maps because they illegally undermine the political strength of Black voters in Louisiana,” ACLU attorney Alora Thomas-Lundborg said. “These maps run contrary to the principle of a representative democracy and clearly violate the Voting Rights Act.”

“I am disappointed that the Legislature voted to override the governor’s veto, but not at all surprised. I disagree strongly with the Legislature’s decision, and I believe that it is necessary to defend my right to vote – and the rights of all Black Louisianans – by taking this to the courts,” said Press Robinson, the complaint’s lead plaintiff. “I believe that the Voting Rights Act is intended to stop actions just like this, and I am not afraid to advocate for myself and the rights of my community.”


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Louisiana Illuminator
Louisiana Illuminator

The Louisiana Illuminator is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization driven by its mission to cast light on how decisions are made in Baton Rouge and how they affect the lives of everyday Louisianians, particularly those who are poor or otherwise marginalized.