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Louisiana legislature approves new congressional map with second majority-Black district

The Louisiana state legislature on Friday approved a new congressional map that includes two majority-Black districts after being ordered to do so by a federal court that found that the existing map illegally diminished Black voting power.

Approval by the legislature comes after a years-long court battle to give Black voters in the state more adequate voting representation. Previously, Black voters in Louisiana had a majority in just one of the state’s six congressional districts, despite making up nearly a third of the statewide population. The new map is expected to give Democrats an edge in upcoming elections.

The map was approved by the state’s Senate on Wednesday and passed in the Louisiana House in a landslide 86-16 vote. The map soon heads to the desk of Gov. Jeff Landry (R), who was sworn into office last week, for approval. Landry has said he supports the map.

The new map increases the Black makeup of Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District from 23 percent to 54 percent.

The seat is held by Rep. Garret Graves, a Republican who was a once top lieutenant of former California congressman Kevin McCarthy (R) before McCarthy was ousted from the speakership last year. Graves had also endorsed one of Landry’s rivals in the gubernatorial race.

While the new plan jeopardizes Graves’s hold on the seat, the map protects the seats of the two most powerful Louisiana Republicans in the House: Speaker Mike Johnson and Majority Leader Steve Scalise.

Before news of the new maps advanced in the state House, Graves told E&E News he would run for reelection in his current district and that he expected “to run in a district that looks a lot like the one that we have today.”

Rep. Troy A. Carter (D-La.), who represents Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District, which is majority Black, praised the passage of the new map.

“Louisiana did the right thing. Math prevailed,” he said in a statement. “It has been a tough fight to get a congressional map that fairly represents every Louisianian, specifically creating two districts that give African Americans equal representation.” The new map lowers the Black voting-age population in Carter’s district to 51 percent.

The addition of the majority-Black seat in Louisiana also adds to the list of recent remapping decisions in several other states, largely across the U.S. South, where Black voters have been suing for representation, citing the Voting Rights Act in court to reverse policies that they say dilute their voting power.

In June 2022, a federal court struck down the state’s congressional map drawn with 2020 census data, saying it violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The court ordered the state legislature to create a second majority-Black district, but the decision had been paused until the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Section 2 in a case concerning Alabama’s map. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit set a Jan. 30 deadline for a new map to be approved.

“We have finally taken the pen out of the hand of a federal judge and placed it back to the people of the state to draw our congressional maps. And so we all should be excited,” Landry said in a video posted after the legislature’s decision.

Earlier this week, Johnson expressed concerns about the new map presented by the state legislature.

“It remains my position that the existing map is constitutional and that the legal challenge to it should be tried on merits so the State has adequate opportunity to defend its merits,” Johnson wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday. “Should the state not prevail at trial, there are multiple other map options that are legally compliant and do not require the unnecessary surrender of a Republican seat in Congress.”

The state’s newly inaugurated legislature approved the map during an eight-day special session. Along with the new map approval, the lawmakers also agreed to tighten some aspects of the state’s “jungle primary” system beginning in 2026, following a broader push by Landry.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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