A federal judge in Louisiana struck down Louisiana state House and Senate districting maps Thursday for violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and diluting Black voter power in the gulf state. Federal District Judge Shelly Dick ordered the the maps redrawn but did not give a quota for the number of majority Black districts the state needed to add instead citing the plaintiffs proffered evidence that six black majority seats in the House and three black majority seats in the Senate could be added. No timeline was given for the new maps to be redrawn but Judge Dick ordered the state be given a “reasonable amount of time” to do so.
The underlying case, Nairne v. Ardoin, alleging the state’s 2022 redistricting plans violated the VRA was first filed in March of 2022. The case languished in the courts pending the US Supreme Court’s decision in a similar voting rights case in Alabama, known as Allen v. Milligan. After the Supreme Court found an Alabama map violated of the VRA and upheld existing principles undergirding the judicial system’s analysis for racial gerrymandering, the Louisiana case was unpaused and went to trial in November 2023.
The plaintiffs specifically attacked Louisiana’s maps for engaging in “cracking” and “packing” districts to dilute Black voter power and ensure a Republican super-majority in the Louisiana legislature. Conversely, counsel for then-Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, defended the maps and attacked Section 2 of the VRA as unconstitutional. In a court filing, Ardoin said that the acts “inherently race-based remedies as applied to the facts in this matter…were not congruent and proportion…to authorize race based redistricting indefinitely.”
Ultimately, the court rejected Ardoin’s arguments as being the same as the one recently rejected in Allen. The court held that the maps gave Black voters in the district “less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.”
The case over Louisiana’s state electoral maps comes amid a series of other case concerning congressional maps in the state and a trend of disenfranchisement cases across the Deep South. Included among the trend are cases in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and North Carolina.