Published: Feb. 12, 2022
By: Rosel Flores and Piper Hutchinson, LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE — As it became clear that Republican leaders planned to pass redistricting maps that would not expand minority seats in Congress or the Louisiana Legislature, Black lawmakers said they had two fallbacks — possible vetoes by Gov. John Bel Edwards or lawsuits.
Now both of those options seem a bit shakier.
The Louisiana House and Senate both passed congressional redistricting plans last week by vote margins that would be big enough to override vetoes by Edwards, a Democrat, if the Republicans could muster those votes again.
And last Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court delayed hearing a suit in a similar redistricting fight in Alabama in a move that legal experts say could hint at less court intervention to support minority claims in the future.
In a 5-4 vote, the court’s conservative majority let a redistricting plan passed by the Alabama Legislature stand through this fall’s midterm elections even though an appeals court had ruled that the law may have violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in failing to provide for a second minority-majority congressional district.
The Supreme Court, which has trimmed back parts of the voting-rights law in recent years, said it would consider the merits of the Alabama case later. But that is not likely to happen until after the November elections, which will decide the balance of power in Congress.
How would the balance of power be affected?
Republicans and Democrats have been fighting across the country to hold or gain congressional seats through the redistricting process. So if lawsuits challenging the decisions are delayed in many states, that could leave the party with the most power — Republicans in red states like Louisiana and Alabama and Democrats in blue states — in the driver’s seat in those areas.
Peter Robins-Brown, the executive director for Louisiana Progress, an advocacy group, said the Supreme Court decision to let the GOP’s Alabama redistricting map stand for now is likely in Louisiana to “embolden those who were already planning to submit a map that would end up in court and make folks who were planning to challenge those maps feel a little worse.”
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