After a court fight, Louisiana’s new congressional map boosts Black political power

(Donna Price / American Press)

Louisiana’s redistricting battle has concluded with the signing of a new congressional map by Republican Governor Jeff Landry, including a second majority-Black district. The move is seen as a victory for Black voters, potentially putting an end to the state’s prolonged legal struggle over redistricting and opening the possibility of Democrats gaining another congressional seat.

The special session convened by Governor Landry focused on redrawing the map after a federal court mandated compliance with the Voting Rights Act, urging the addition of a second majority-Black district by January 30. The previous map, challenged for allegedly diluting Black voting power, faced legal disputes for nearly two years.

Governor Landry emphasized the importance of resolving the issue within the legislature to prevent federal intervention, stating that the new maps would satisfy the court and ensure state control over congressional districts. A federal judge must now approve Louisiana’s new map.

In 2022, Louisiana lawmakers initially passed a map with only one majority-Black district out of six, despite Black residents constituting about a third of the state’s population. Black voters contested this map, leading to the ongoing legal battle.

Under the newly signed map, Louisiana’s 2nd District, covering much of New Orleans, will have a Black population of approximately 53%. The 6th District, stretching from Shreveport to Baton Rouge, will have a Black population of around 56%. Notably, Republican Garret Graves, an ally of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, risks losing his seat in the 6th District under the new map.

Alternative proposals preferred by Black voting rights activists were considered, impacting the 5th District held by Republican Rep. Julia Letlow. The final decision aimed to protect Letlow’s seat, as she is Louisiana’s only female representative and serves on the House Appropriations Committee. House Speaker Mike Johnson and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s seats were also safeguarded.

This development mirrors a similar fight in Alabama, where federal judges selected a map including a second district to increase Black political power. Given racial voting patterns, Democrats are expected to benefit from the additional seats in both Alabama and Louisiana.

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