Judge: Legislators need to go back to the drawing board for congressional map

Published 7:16 am Saturday, February 10, 2024

U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick ordered the state Legislature on Thursday to draw another map that does not dilute the minority vote in state elections.

Legislators did that in the mid-January special session to settle a case dealing with elections that send winners to the U.S. Congress. That new map splits Calcasieu and a few other parishes, and stretches the new, second majority-Black district from Shreveport to Baton Rouge.       

On Tuesday – after the last map was drawn and before’s Dick’s decision was announced in this case – Rep. Les Farnum, R-Sulphur, said, “Personally, I don’t think it will hold up in court.”

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Farnum sits on the House and Governmental Affairs Committee. At the Family and Youth Annual Legislative Breakfast, he said he has been involved in redistricting for the past four years and thought the matter would have been settled long ago.

“I have seen 40 maps that drew different types of minority districts, and it was never apparent to me that we could meet all of the law’s requirements and create one,” he said.

He described today’s Louisiana’s communities as not black or white, but gray, getting along and living together.

“The 14th Amendment says that you can’t racially gerrymander to draw a district, and that’s the only way you can get there is by doing that,” he said. “It’s a vicious circle that we’ve been in for the past four years, chasing the tail, trying to do what the courts want us to do.”

“Because majority Black districts lean Democratic, adding more of them puts Republicans at risk of losing their supermajority in both chambers — meaning they control two-thirds of seats and don’t need a single Democratic to join their side in votes to put constitutional amendments before voters or overturn a governor’s veto,” an article from the Illuminator about redistricting explained.

The publication also reported on Feb. 1 that a group of non-Black voters challenged Louisiana’s new congressional maps alleging the new majority-Black district violates their rights. Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits voting laws or procedures that purposefully discriminate on the basis of race, color or membership in a language minority group.