BATON ROUGE — A federal district judge ruled Monday that the new congressional maps drawn during a special legislative redistricting session earlier this year need to be redone to be fair to the state’s minority residents.
Gov. John Bel Edwards quickly said that he would call the Republican-led Legislature back into a new special session to reconsider the maps. Republican leaders said they would appeal the ruling.
Edwards vetoed the maps in March, but the legislators overrode his veto.
The maps created only one minority district for the six Louisiana congressional seats despite 33 percent of the state’s population being black.
U.S. District Judge Shelly D. Dick decided in Robinson v. Ardoin that the maps violated Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act. She ruled that Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin could not hold congressional elections this fall under this map.
The 152-page ruling outlines the timeline for legislators to meet to redraw the maps. The new maps must have two Black-majority districts, the judge wrote.
The Legislature has until June 20 to submit new maps. Edwards’ statement that he will call for a new session comes just two weeks before the deadline.
The ruling came Monday as the Legislature was ending its 2022 regular session. Edwards said he would be calling for the special session within the next day, squashing hope that lawmakers would be returning home for an extended period.
Republican lawmakers are confident that the appeals process will play in their favor. Attorney General Jeff Landry has already filed a notice of appeal.
The case will go to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has a number of conservative judges.
A special redistricting session occurs every 10 years. This year’s session met in February. During this time, several proposed maps fulfilled the goal of Black lawmakers to have two majority-Black districts, but none of them could garner enough votes in redistricting committees in both chambers.
The map that was submitted to Edwards retained the status-quo of having five mostly white districts with the one majority-black district making up parts of New Orleans and Baton Rouge.