The U.S. Supreme Court allows Louisiana election cards that are accused of racial bias

Written by Javed Iqbal

WASHINGTON, June 28 (Reuters) – The Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated a Republican-drawn map of Louisiana’s six U.S. House of Representatives districts that had been blocked by a judge who found it likely to discriminate against black voters, a setback for Democrats as they try to retain control of Congress in the November election.

The judges granted a request from Louisiana’s Republican Secretary of State to suspend U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick’s order requiring a new card that has another district where black voters represent the majority of voters instead of just one in the version the Republicans have adopted. . headed state legislature.

The three Liberal judges in the nine-member Conservative majority court distanced themselves from the decision.

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Democrats control the U.S. House by a small margin, making each seat crucial in Republicans’ efforts to relinquish control of President Joe Biden’s party one or both chambers of Congress in the midterm elections.

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on June 12 had refused to reinstate the Republican-drawn Louisiana districts, calling evidence presented by black voters challenging the card “stronger” than evidence presented in defense. for the card.

The plaintiffs said in their lawsuit that the Republican-drawn card maximizes “political power for white citizens” by packing a large number of black voters into a single district and spreading the rest to the other five, where they are too few to choose theirs. preferred candidates.

The Louisiana legislature passed the card in February. Democratic Gov. Jon Bel Edwards vetoed it – criticizes it for not including another black majority district, given that black voters make up almost a third of the state’s population – but the Legislature violated the right of veto.

Democrats have accused Republicans of harassing the majority in the state legislature to draw election cards that dilute the influence of blacks and other minority voters who tend to support Democratic candidates. Republicans have said that consideration for race when drawing ballot papers should be limited.

After the card was challenged by groups of black voters – one along with civil rights groups including the Louisiana NAACP – the judge ruled that the way it was drawn was likely to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act. This landmark federal law of 1965 for decades has been used to discourage racially biased actions in polling and drawing constituencies.

The plaintiffs said that in Louisiana, “strong racist polarized voting leads almost universally to electoral defeat for black-preferred candidates.”

Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said in his legal application that the judge’s order to adopt another majority in the black district requires the race to dominate the card-making process, in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment Guarantee of Equal Protection under the law.

The Louisiana dispute reflects one from Alabama, which the Supreme Court has already agreed to hear and which could further weaken the suffrage law. Arguments in the Alabama case are scheduled for Oct. 4. The final ruling, which falls before the end of June 2023, may make it harder for the courts to consider race when deciding whether a constituency map is in breach of Article 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which blocks the resulting voting practice. in racial discrimination.

The Supreme Court ruling Tuesday said the judges would take up the Louisiana case and hold it back until it decides the Alabama case.

The Louisiana case is among dozens of legal challenges nationwide in terms of constituency composition, which is redrawn every decade to reflect population changes measured by a national census, most recently taken in 2020.

In most states, such a redistribution of the party is carried out by power, which can lead to card manipulation for party political gain.

In a ruling last July in favor of Republican-backed voting restrictions in Arizona, the Supreme Court made it harder to prove violations under Section 2.

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Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing Will Dunham

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Javed Iqbal

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