Does Louisiana’s new legislative map dilute Black votes? Judge to decide after trial

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A U.S. District Judge will soon decide whether Louisiana should be added. Map of the state legislature to the majority-black districtsAfter civil rights groups argued for that move on Monday.

Russell B. in Baton Rouge. In a packed courtroom at the Long Federal Building, lawyers for civil rights groups began building their case that the 2022 map would dilute the black vote and violate the Voting Rights Act.

Office of the Attorney General and State Representative Jeff Landry In court records, the Middle District Court dismissed those lawsuits and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put the case on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court can examine whether civil rights groups can sue under the Voting Rights Act, a decision U.S. Circuit Chief Judge Shelley Dick denied on Monday.

Dick is expected to rule after a trial on Louisiana’s legal maps, which is expected to last more than a week.

Dick, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, recently sided with civil rights groups A separate issue Challenged Louisiana Congressional Map. That map has only one majority-black district in a state where black residents make up a third of the population.

Dick decided that at least two of the state’s six congressional districts would be majority black.

The current lawsuit, involving state legislative seats, stems from a lawsuit filed last March on behalf of the Black Voter Empowerment Institute, the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP and several black Louisianans.

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Louisiana and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund are representing the plaintiffs.

“We are fighting to give black voters in Louisiana a fair chance to vote for the candidate of their choice,” said attorney Megan Keenan of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, who is a consultant on the case.

Keenan argued that when the Legislature redrew seat lines for itself, it “should have drawn new majority-black districts to properly represent Louisiana’s growing black population.”

According to the lawsuit, redistricting should have created six to nine more majority-black districts in the House and three more in the Senate, but instead created just one more majority-black district.

While 58% of white voters are of voting age, they control the results for 70% of the seats, the lawsuit says. He argues that redistricting continues Louisiana’s “disgraceful record of denying black Louisianans a meaningful opportunity in the political life of the state through the election of their preferred candidates.”

On Monday, the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit testified about their experiences as black voters in Louisiana. One plaintiff, Reverend Clea Ernest Lowe, has lived in House District 66 in Baton Rouge for 15 years and has never represented a black person in the state House.

“It’s important to have people representing my interests, my community’s interests,” Lowe said. And that doesn’t seem to work now.

Attorney General and state Rep. Jeff Landry defended the state in court against the complaint, arguing that the claims fall outside the jurisdiction of federal courts because they “relate to traditionally and historically partisan gerrymandering questions that are politically inaccessible to the courts.”

The record also argued that the new maps did not show sufficient damage and therefore could not state a claim.

In a court document filed Friday, Landry’s office requested a stay on the case. The record mentioned the latest Resolution 8Th Court of AppealsHe stated that private citizens and groups do not have the right to demand that the Voting Rights Act be enforced through litigation.

That question is expected to go before the Supreme Court, arguing that the Louisiana case should not proceed until the case is resolved. In court documents filed on Louisiana’s congressional maps, Landry calls 8Th The circuit’s ruling sets a “new and important precedent.”

But Dick denied that request on Monday.

Kennan of the ACLU said in an interview that the 8th District’s decision was inconsistent with an “otherwise consistent pattern of victories” in similar cases.

If the Supreme Court upholds the decision, advocates predict a major blow to the Voting Rights Act, which increased the voting power of black Americans.

The trial on legislative maps is expected to last until Wednesday, Dec. 6, Kenan said, adding that Dick will take two weeks to make a decision.

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