Federal Panel Directs Louisiana to Redraw Congressional Map Amid Gerrymandering Dispute

A federal three-judge panel has instructed the Louisiana Legislature to craft a new congressional map by June 3 or face court intervention to establish “interim” boundaries for the November 5 election.

The directive, issued Tuesday, stems from the court’s determination that the congressional map endorsed by the Legislature in January violated the constitution due to “an impermissible racial gerrymander” aimed at creating a second majority Black district among the state’s six congressional seats.

While the court did not mandate the inclusion of a second majority Black district in the new map, it stressed that failure by the Legislature to take action would prompt the court to impose a new map on June 4.

Moreover, the court disregarded Louisiana Secretary of State Nancy Landry’s May 15 deadline, which she argued was crucial for the fall election to proceed.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the court’s decision, Attorney General Liz Murrill announced the state’s intention to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Today, three federal judges who never spent a day running an election have ignored uncontradicted testimony that we need a map by May 15, and once again turned Louisiana’s Congressional elections upside down,” Murrill stated. “That’s on the tails of another federal judge, the 5th Circuit and the Supreme Court doing it in the last round of congressional elections.”

With the Louisiana Legislature in session until June 3, it remains uncertain whether existing legislation can be amended to facilitate the creation of a new congressional map.

The outcome of this process holds significance for incumbents’ political careers and the representation scope for the state’s Black voters.

The plaintiffs successfully contested the previous map, contending that the boundaries of the new majority Black 6th Congressional District did not adhere to traditional redistricting principles like compactness and preserving communities of interest.

The state defended the map, citing various factors, including the need to safeguard powerful incumbent Republicans such as U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson (4th District), Majority Leader Steve Scalise (1st District), and Julia Letlow (5th District), who serves on the Appropriations Committee.

The alterations to the map were perceived as jeopardizing Republican U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, the current 6th District congressman, by shifting his district’s boundaries in favor of a majority Black voter population.

U.S. Western District Judges Robert Summerhays and David Joseph, appointed by President Trump, concurred with the plaintiffs, while Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Carl Stewart, appointed by President Bill Clinton, dissented in the divided decision.