(The Center Square) — Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and Attorney General Jeff Landry are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the state’s congressional redistricting saga as state legislators work to comply with a court order to redraw a map with a second black majority district.
Landry on Friday filed a 51-page emergency motion on behalf of Ardoin to request the nation’s highest court halt an order by U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick that tasks the Louisiana Legislature with redrawing a congressional map with two black majority districts by Monday, according to The Associated Press.
The motion argues Dick’s ruling “throws the election process into chaos, and creates confusion statewide,” and asserts an Alabama case currently before the court “presents the exact question” at the center of the legal dispute in Louisiana.
Landry argued the Louisiana and Alabama cases should be consolidated, or Louisiana’s case should be put on hold until the Alabama case is resolved, the news wire reports.
Lawmakers approved a new congressional map during an extraordinary session in February that maintains the status quo of one majority black district and five white majority districts. Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed the legislation, citing the state’s roughly one-third black population, and lawmakers voted to override the veto.
Civil rights groups and voting rights advocates immediately sued to block the map over alleged violations of the U.S. Voting Rights Act, which requires lawmakers to provide minorities with an opportunity to elect a representative of their choice, if possible.
Dick agreed the map violated the law and gave lawmakers six days, until Monday at 6 p.m., to craft a new map with two black districts and she promised to create one herself if they fail. Republicans appealed Dick’s ruling but the appeals court denied a request to halt Dick’s order as the appeal proceeds.
Dick also denied a request by legislative leaders to extend the deadline to June 30 during a hearing on Thursday, as the Senate and Governmental Affairs committee considered a bill by Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, to comply with the judge’s order.
The senate committee ultimately voted 6-3 to hold the bill, Senate Bill 1, and revisit the legislation on Friday, when it’s scheduled to review Senate Bill 3, by Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, which also creates two black majority districts.
The House and Governmental Affairs Committee also convened on Friday to hear testimony on multiple bills to create a second black majority district, including House Bill 1, by Rep. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, and House bills 3 and 4, by Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Baton Rouge.
Lawmakers in both committees have expressed skepticism the Legislature will manage to approve a new congressional map with two black majority districts by Dick’s deadline.
“Really, we’re spending a lot of money in this session to do nothing,” said Rep. Wilford Carter, D-Lake Charles.
In Landry’s motion to the Supreme Court, he argued that “even if Louisiana pulls it off, with the proverbial gun to its head held by a federal court, the state will be forced to elect congressional representatives using boundaries anathema to the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, unless this court steps in now.”