Reaction pours in after judge blocks Louisiana’s congressional map
MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Reaction is pouring in after a federal judge blocked Louisiana’s congressional map on June 6.
“This is a preliminary ruling on an injunction trying to force the Legislature to rewrite a map within a few weeks,” State Senator Jay Morris (R- District 35) told KNOE.
“I maybe wouldn’t have imagined it would happen in my lifetime, but it did, so I’m very excited and overwhelmed,” explained Alanah Odoms, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana.
The ruling out of the Middle District of Louisiana granted a preliminary injunction saying the plaintiffs were likely to prove at trial that the map approved in February violates the Voting Rights Act.
Senator Morris, who represents six parishes in North and Central Louisiana, says the decision by Governor John Bel Edwards to call a special session to redraw the map is premature.
“To me, it borders on ridiculous to go back and rewrite districts before we have a definitive ruling on the merits of the case,” Morris said.
Although the judge has granted temporary relief, the case will still go to trial, which could take months or even years.
“The reason why they want this case to go to trial is because they want the timing to elapse and the maps to go into effect and the one seat, or the one elected person to be elected,” said Odoms.
The 2020 Census revealed Louisiana’s population is 33% black, yet the map drawn by the Legislature only contains one majority-minority district out of six. Morris says that doesn’t bother him.
“Racial gerrymandering where we go around the state and try and grab every black voter and squeeze them into two different districts is not the way to go,” explained Senator Morris.
Odoms says the ACLU has presented several maps with two majority-minority districts that don’t involve racial gerrymandering. She says they provide African-Americans with a voice at the ballot box.
“We don’t know necessarily who those candidates will be, but it will simply allow an African American who is voting in that district to have the opportunity to elect a candidate of choice,” said Odoms.
Morris adds that if an appeal isn’t successful before the special session is slated to begin on June 15, the Legislature is likely to draw maps similar to the one blocked in court.
“To get an order from a court that they willfully deny is actually really problematic. I don’t accept the argument for our lawmakers to say we simply don’t need to follow the law. We can do whatever we want because we are in charge of the process.”
State officials have already filed an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
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