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Louisiana Legislature passes new congressional map

Plan would alter the district currently held by Republican Rep. Garret Graves to make it a majority Black voting population

Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., talks with reporters in the Capitol after votes in December.
Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., talks with reporters in the Capitol after votes in December. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Republican-controlled Louisiana state Legislature passed a new congressional map Friday that creates a second Black-majority district in the state.

The state House voted 86-16 and the state Senate voted 27-11 on a plan that would alter the district currently held by Republican Rep. Garret Graves to make it a majority-Black voting population.

The plan now goes to Gov. Jeff Landry, who has said he would back it.

The new plan follows a court order from U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick, who gave the state until the end of the month to draw a new map for the 2024 election.

Dick found the state’s original map likely violated the Voting Rights Act because it minimized the political power of Black voters. Black voters made up about one-third of the state’s population but were a majority in only one of the state’s six congressional districts, the New Orleans-based seat of Democratic Rep. Troy Carter.

Democratic state Sen. Gary Carter praised the new map during floor debate Friday, calling it a “historic opportunity” for voters in the state.

“This state has the opportunity to provide equal representation in our congressional leadership,” Carter said.

Dick had found the map drawn after the 2020 census likely violated the VRA in 2022, but a new map was delayed by several court fights. After a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, Dick gave the state until the end of January to draw a new map before a trial on the issue originally scheduled for next month.

The new map would have one Black-majority district centered on New Orleans and a second that stretches from Baton Rouge to Shreveport in northwestern Louisiana.

Landry, who defended the state’s original map as state attorney general before winning election to the governorship last year, said the state had no choice but to pursue redistricting.

“The people expect us to operate government efficiently, and to act in compliance with the laws of our nation and the instruction of our Courts — even when we disagree with them,” Landry said at the opening of the special redistricting session of the Legislature.

The map’s passage is not the end of court battles over Louisiana’s congressional districts. If Landry signs the plan, the new map would be subject to court review by Dick and further litigation by the original challengers, which includes voters and the state NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

A group of the challengers praised the map’s passage in statements issued Friday. “While justice was too long delayed, it is no longer denied,” state NAACP President Mike McClanahan said. “Black voters in Louisiana have long deserved an equitable voice in our political process, and this new map finally provides relief from the dilution our communities face under the State’s discriminatory map.”

Numerous Republicans in the state have objected to the new map and argued the state should have defended the original district lines. Graves, whose district was the most changed under the plan adopted by the Legislature on Friday, said the new map ignored many communities of interest and reduced the Black population of Carter’s district.

“So bottom line is there’s a zero percent chance that that map survives legal scrutiny,” Graves said.

Graves pointed out that if any of those proceedings are held up, including by an appeal to the 5th Circuit, the fight could easily stretch into the 2026 cycle.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said Tuesday on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, that he was “very concerned” with the state’s new plan and advocated for the state to fight for the original map.

“It remains my position that the existing map is constitutional and that the legal challenge to it should be tried on merits so the State has adequate opportunity to defend its merits,” Johnson posted. “Should the state not prevail at trial, there are multiple other map options that are legally compliant and do not require the unnecessary surrender of a Republican seat in Congress.”

Court fights over congressional maps have already reshaped the battle for the closely divided House. Last year, federal courts approved new maps in Alabama and Georgia and a state court in New York restarted that state’s redistricting process.

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