Louisiana’s proposed congressional map advances to the House of Representatives with a majority-black second district
With bipartisan support, AThat would create a second, majority-Black district passed through the state Senate on Wednesday and will advance to the House for debate.
The Senate’s approval represents a victory for Democrats who have long called for the establishment of a second majority-minority district, arguing that the current congressional map discriminates against black voters, who constitute a third of Louisiana’s population. A second, majority-black district could also result in another Democratic seat in Congress.
Louisiana is on a list of states still disputing congressional districts after the US Supreme Court ruled in June that Alabama violated the Voting Rights Act.
Officials have until January 30 to pass new congressional boundaries with a majority-minority second district in Louisiana. If they don’t meet the deadline, a district court will hold a trial and “determine a plan for the 2024 election,” according to a November court order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth District. A district court judge has indicated she will create a map herself if lawmakers don’t complete the task.
For more than a year, Republicans have resisted drawing another minority district, saying the current map, which has a white majority in five of the six congressional districts, is fair and constitutional.
But there is a renewed push to pass a map that includes a majority-minority second district, driven by the looming deadline; A prosecutor who says that all legal remedies have been exhausted; A new conservative governor is urging the GOP-dominated Legislature to pass congressional limits that satisfy the court.
Under the proposed map approved Wednesday, 54% of the voting-age population in the district currently controlled by Republican U.S. Rep. Garrett Graves would be black — compared to the current 23%. Graves opposes the plan, saying in a statement to The Advocate that it “ignores the redistricting principles of compactness and communities of interest.”
The lawmaker who introduced the legislation, Republican state Rep. Glenn Womack, said that when creating the map he prioritized protecting the seats of U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson and U.S. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, as well as the seat of Congresswoman Julia Letlow, who represents Womack’s district.
Louisiana currently has one majority-black district, the 2nd District, which includes most of New Orleans and extends to Baton Rouge, and is represented by U.S. Rep. Troy Carter, the state’s only black and Democratic member of Congress.
On the Senate floor Wednesday, Democrats raised concerns that under the proposed map, the black voting-age population in Carter’s district would drop to 51%. However, Democrats still voted in favor, and the legislation passed by a vote of 27 to 11. All votes against the bill belonged to Republican lawmakers, who continue to insist that the current map is constitutional.