Six-day legislative session to add a second Black congressional district to La. starts next week

A federal judge ruled the previous voting district map with one majority Black district violated the Voting Rights Act.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards on Tuesday called a special legislative session to redraw Louisiana’s congressional boundary lines after a map adopted by the Republican-dominated Legislature was blocked by a federal judge in Baton Rouge.

Edwards’ call for a six-day session starting June 15 came as Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, the state’s top election official, joined legislative leaders in asking U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick to delay her order while they appeal.

Unless it’s blocked by the courts, the special session will end June 20 — the deadline Dick set for a new plan to be developed in her Monday order.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards appears at a press conference in Baton Rouge, La. on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton, File)

Edwards vetoed legislation outlining the existing map earlier this year, joining other Democrats and voting rights advocates in arguing that there should be a second majority-Black district among Louisiana’s six because nearly a third of the state population is Black. His veto was overridden by the House and Senate.

Dick’s ruling in favor of Democrats who say the existing map violates the Voting Rights Act “is correct and completely unsurprising, which is why I vetoed these maps originally,” Edwards said in a news release. “It is imperative that the Louisiana Legislature come to Baton Rouge to redraw these maps quickly and fairly, in compliance with the judge’s order and before the fall elections.”

Ardoin’s lawyers argued in their Tuesday filing that they are likely to win the case on appeal and that the district maps do not dilute Black voting strength. Also, they argued, it will be impossible for the Legislature to complete work on a new plan by the judge’s deadline.

They cited the advance notice required for a special session, the number of days required for a bill to go through the legislative process and the likelihood of long debates and numerous amendments all mean the June 20 deadline cannot be met.

Edwards’ spokeswoman, Christina Stephens, said there is ample time for the Legislature to complete work on new districts.

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