The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a motion to put a lower level court order directing the creation of a new Congressional map for Louisiana on hold as the appeals process plays out. That means the process of creating that new map will proceed.
The original map, put together following the 2020 census, was challenged because of the lack of representation for Black voters. Black residents comprise about one-third of the population of Louisiana, but the original map of six Congressional districts had just one where Black voters could select their “candidate of choice.” It sounds as though the rest of the districts were drawn in such a way that Black voters would have found it more difficult to band together in sufficient numbers to elect somebody, and those behind a piece of litigation that’s led, after some twists and turns, to this new appeals court ruling pushed for the creation of a new Congressional map with a second “minority opportunity district,” as Democracy Docket (a voting rights org) put it.
“A preliminary injunction was granted blocking the congressional map for the 2022 election cycle,” Democracy Docket says of an earlier point in litigation. The state’s side appealed, and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals initially issued a so-called administrative stay covering the earlier conclusions from the lower court, meaning the injunction was put on hold. But the appeals court has since undone that administrative stay and denied that motion for a stay as the appeals process plays out. Imposing a so-called stay, or pause, on the lower court order would mean even if the Congressional map is eventually conclusively thrown out by the courts, it might still be used for upcoming Congressional elections. That doesn’t sound as though those on the state’s side in this lawsuit are interested in the higher interest of the law — it sounds like they’re committed to getting their political agenda.
“BREAKING: Fifth Circuit DENIES Louisiana’s motion to stay redistricting Voting Rights Act decision pending appeal,” voting rights lawyer Marc Elias said Sunday. “Redraw of congressional map will proceed as appeal is expedited.” There have been a wide array of court challenges connected to the redistricting process since its early days. One played out in New Hampshire, where Republican state legislators initially passed Congressional redistricting proposals including a set-up that would’ve left the two Democrats currently representing the state in the same district ahead of the midterms. New Hampshire’s Supreme Court has officially approved a new map that’s very close to the pre-census arrangement — meaning those GOP-backed alternative approaches have failed. New Hampshire Republican Governor Chris Sununu — despite his party affiliation — refused to go along with the legislators’ proposals.
There’s been less success in Florida, where a plan pushed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis that spreads areas currently in Democratic Rep. Al Lawson’s district across several new districts is currently in force as challenges continue. The map also gives Republicans a substantially higher portion of House seats from Florida than their portion of the electorate would indicate is appropriate. The state Supreme Court in Florida recently declined to take up a challenge to the map, which has already been debated over in lower-level courts in the state. “Gov. DeSantis’ proposed map is a blatantly unconstitutional attack on Black representation in Florida and a violation of the Fair Districts Amendment. We, the people of Florida, are not going anywhere, and the fight is not over,” Jasmine Burney-Clark, founder of the advocacy organization Equal Ground, said after the state Supreme Court’s move.