Louisiana gains more majority-Black districts in new congressional map

Then-U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry of Louisiana speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Oct. 2011. Now the state's governor, Landry on Tuesday addressed the need for a new congressional map in the state and said, “The federal courts have ordered us to perform our job." File Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI
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Jan. 19 (UPI) -- To comply with a previous court ruling, Louisiana lawmakers approved a new congressional map Friday that increases the total number of majority-Black districts.

While Louisiana's population is nearly one-third Black, five of the state's six congressional districts are majority white.

After more than a year of court appeals, Louisiana legislators recently redrew the state's congressional map.

A court ruling said Louisiana's Republican-controlled Legislature had illegally disenfranchised Black voters under its previous redistricting plan.

In March 2022, then-Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed the congressional redistricting map drawn by the Legislature, asserting at the time that it "runs afoul of federal law."

The new Republican governor -- Jeff Landry who previously was the state attorney general -- acknowledged in a Tuesday speech to the Legislature that "the federal courts have ordered us to perform our job."

"These maps will satisfy the court and ensure that the congressional districts of our state are made right here in the Legislature and not by some heavy-handed member of the federal judiciary," Landry said during Tuesday's special session of the state Legislature.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said Louisiana's new congressional map was an "opportunity for celebration."

"I'm optimistic that it puts us on a path to settlement, but we've got multiple parties in the case and a couple more steps to get through," Victoria Wenger, an NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyer, said.

Senate Bill 8 -- which passed 27-11 with Republican legislators comprising the 11 no votes -- turns Louisiana's 6th Congressional District currently represented by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, a Republican from Baton Rouge, into a majority-Black district stretching diagonally across the center of Louisiana.

"Unfortunately, we must pass this map before us instead of giving the pen to a heavy handed, Obama-appointed judge who seeks to enforce her will upon us," said state Sen. Jeremy Stine, a Republican from Lake Charles.

State Sen. Royce Duplessis, a New Orleans Democrat, said the Voting Rights Act was not interpreted by just one judge "but also by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that's made up of judges that were appointed by Republican presidents and the United States Supreme Court that is made up of justices that were appointed by majority."