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Supreme Court allows Louisiana to use congressional map with majority-black second district

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court cleared the way Wednesday for Louisiana to use a congressional map in this year’s elections that includes two majority-black districts.

The court granted emergency requests filed by an unlikely alliance of Republican state officials and civil rights groups, who were united in asking the high court to block a lower court ruling invalidating the most recently drawn map. State officials said they needed to finalize the map by Wednesday to meet bureaucratic deadlines and avoid “disarray.”

Black voters have historically voted for Democrats, and a map with two majority-black districts could give them an opportunity to win a seat, which could help them regain control of a closely divided House of Representatives.

The court’s three liberal justices disagreed, with Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson writing that the state still had time to draw up a map that would answer the various legal questions raised. The field has a 6-3 conservative majority.

“There is little risk of voter confusion if a new map were imposed so far from the November election,” Jackson wrote.

Liberal justices have dissented in previous cases when the court acted to block changes to district maps or election laws during an election year, often in ways that benefited Republicans.

Internal divisions on this issue flared in 2022 when the court blocked a ruling invalidating a congressional district map in Alabama.

Then conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh defended the decision, saying it was a “fundamental principle” of election law that “the rules of the road must be clear and established in an election year “.

The majority did not explain its reasoning in detail in Wednesday’s decision.

Louisiana’s map was the subject of intense litigation, with the state’s initial effort deemed a racial gerrymander. Using the Legislature’s original map, Republicans won five of six districts in the 2022 elections.

That map was later redrawn after the Supreme Court last summer unexpectedly strengthened the federal Voting Rights Act by ruling that Alabama’s similar congressional map, the same one it had previously authorized use in 2022, was discriminatory against black voters.

But after Louisiana’s new map was drawn, a new group of plaintiffs, each described in court documents as “non-African American,” filed a lawsuit claiming it violated the 14th Amendment. Constitution, which ensures that the law applies equally to everyone. These plaintiffs argued that the creation of a second majority-black district was itself a form of discrimination against non-black voters.

A federal court struck down the new map, but with time running out to finalize congressional districts before this year’s elections, state officials told the Supreme Court it was essential “to avoid chaos and confusion.”

The plaintiffs in the new case said the state’s deadlines were “hopelessly arbitrary,” in part because there was no primary election in the spring.

Louisiana does not have traditional primary elections like those in other states; instead, all candidates appear on the Election Day ballot in what is called a “jungle primary.” The state recently revised its election laws, and more party primaries, like those in other states, are expected to be introduced in 2026.

Defenders of Louisiana’s latest map welcomed the Supreme Court’s order Wednesday.

“Today’s action before the Supreme Court ensures that the voices of Black voters will not be silenced in this year’s crucial elections,” said Sara Rohani, redistricting fellow for the Legal Defense Fund, in a press release. “The Voting Rights Act requires that Louisiana have a map where black voters have a fair chance to elect the candidates of their choice. While this is not the end of our work to defend this principle, it is a critical moment in our fight for fair maps in Louisiana and reflects the strength of our democracy.

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News Source : www.nbcnews.com

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