Legislature begins another special session on redistricting
A federal judge ordered lawmakers to redraw the state’s six congressional districts
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Louisiana lawmakers began a special session on Wednesday after a federal judge ordered the legislature to redraw congressional boundaries and include a second majority-African American district.
Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, called the special session last week. Judge Shelley Dick has given legislators a matter of days to rework the congressional map.
Edwards and black legislators along with civil rights groups favor adding a second black-majority district. They point to the percentage of African Americans in Louisiana. A third of the population in the state is African American.
But the legislature is controlled by Republicans, many of home favor keeping the congressional districts they approved in February. For years, the state has had six districts and one is majority-African American.
Rep. Kyle Green, D-Marrero is an African American representing parts of Jefferson Parish, a suburb of New Orleans.
“I hope that we would follow what the court ordered us to do which is to pass maps and comply with the Voting Rights Act, ensuring that minorities particularly African Americans in the state have adequate representation,” said Green.
Sen. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge said his sense is that the congressional map will not be altered to include a second majority-black district.
“In my opinion, I don’t know that, that sentiment is there, you know, two-thirds of the House and Senate voted on a five and one district, so obviously we’re here because of the judge’s order so we’ll just wait and see how things play out,” he said.
Rep. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans has authored a bill he believes will comply with the federal court’s order.
“My map complies with the Voting Rights Act. It complies with the order of the court and we don’t really have much of a choice in this matter. The court has ordered us to come up with a map that has two black congressional districts. We can’t pick and choose when we follow the law,” said Duplessis.
Civil rights groups went to court to force the legislature’s hand. Meanwhile, a court hearing is set for Thursday on a request by legislative leaders for 10 more days to comply with the court’s order.
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