NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge in Robinson v. Ardoin ruled in favor of Black voters challenging Louisiana’s newly enacted congressional map as a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The decision came after a week-long hearing in which Black Louisianans and civil rights groups presented their case for enjoining the discriminatory map, which severely dilutes Black voting power by packing Black voters from New Orleans and Baton Rouge into a single U.S. congressional district. As a result of the decision, lawmakers must draw a new map with two majority-Black districts to be used during upcoming elections, while litigation continues.
The lawsuit was filed on March 30, 2022 by the Legal Defense Fund (LDF), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Louisiana, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, and Louisiana Lawyers John Adcock and Tracie Washington on behalf of the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, and nine individual voters. It was filed immediately after the Louisiana Legislature voted to overturn Governor John Bel Edwards’ veto of the congressional plan passed by the Legislature in February.
“The people of Louisiana are the real winners following this ruling,” said Congressman Troy Carter. “Minority voters in Louisiana should be heard commensurate with the actual numbers in our state. The foundational principle of our democracy, the right to vote, must be protected at all costs and I’m glad that the courts agreed as they struck down these unfair, racially discriminatory maps. Now, the Legislature has a chance to follow the clear math and draw maps that lift every voice and create a second majority-minority congressional district that is truly representative of the population.”
“This ruling is a vindication of Black Louisianans’ voting rights,” said ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Alanah Odoms. “For decades, voters of color in this state have been disenfranchised and treated as second-class citizens by racially gerrymandered maps that dilute their voting strength. The Legislature needs to respect us all as equal citizens under the law.”
“The court was clear: Louisiana’s Census data shows that the state's growth over the past decade was due to growth in communities of color,” said ACLU of Louisiana Legal Director Nora Ahmed. “For voters of color to be fully included in our democratic process, our maps have to fairly reflect our state’s population.”
The voting-age population in Louisiana is nearly one-third Black. Under the Legislature’s proposed map, Black Louisianans comprise the majority in only one of the state’s six congressional districts, and candidates supported by Black voters are routinely outvoted in the five other districts. The result is underrepresentation of Black voters in Louisiana’s congressional delegation, with Black voters having an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice in only one of the six congressional districts (i.e., 16.7% of the districts). At the same time, Louisiana’s white population is vastly overrepresented. While only 58% of Louisiana’s population is non-Hispanic white, white voters control the outcome in five out of six (83.3%) districts under the maps. That control has meant that no Black candidate has won election to any of those seats since Reconstruction.