U.S. Supreme Court restores Louisiana voting map with second majority-Black district

The U.S. Supreme Court temporarily cleared the way for Louisiana to use a voting map with two majority-Black districts in this year's election, as the court's three liberal justices dissented. File photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

May 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily cleared the way for Louisiana to use a voting map with two majority-Black districts in this year's election, a decision that could help Democrats pick up a seat in the divided House of Representatives.

The high court's decision Wednesday comes after Louisiana state officials and voting rights advocates made an emergency request in an effort to finalize a map this week and meet election bureaucratic deadlines.

The court's three liberal justices dissented, including Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson who said it was premature for the Supreme Court to intervene in the lower court's case.

"Redistricting raises unique and unusual timeliness concerns, with important deadlines weeks and even months before an election," Jackson wrote. "There is little risk of voter confusion from a new map being imposed this far out from the November election."

"The three-judge District Court in this action, after holding a full merits trial and finding the current map unconstitutional, scheduled the imposition of a remedial map for no later than June 4. In doing so, it rejected the state's argument that the real deadline for settling on a map is May 15," Jackson added.

"Rather than wading in now, I would have let the District Court's remedial process run its course before considering whether our emergency intervention was warranted."

In previous cases, the liberal justices have objected to changing district maps during an election year when it benefited Republicans.

In 2022, the Supreme Court reinstated Louisiana's Republican-drawn congressional map, freezing a lower court's ruling that said it violated the Voting Rights Act. The court's decision reset the map for the midterm election, despite arguments it was racially biased and would dilute the power of Black voters. Republicans won five of the six districts in the 2022 elections.

In January, Louisiana lawmakers approved a new congressional map in an effort to increase the number of majority-Black districts to represent the state's population which is nearly one-third Black.

On Wednesday, Democratic congressional candidate Cleo Fields -- who is running in Louisiana's new second majority-Black district -- applauded the Supreme Court decision to restore the map.

"The U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision is a pivotal victory for Louisiana and resonates deeply with the essence of democracy," Louisiana state Sen. Fields wrote in a post on X.

"It reaffirms our collective commitment to justice and fair representation, ensuring that the voices of all Louisianans are heard and valued."