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(Photo courtesy of Jim Plylar | CC BY-SA 3.0)

Louisiana has until the end of January to redraw congressional districts

A judge has extended the deadline for Louisiana lawmakers to draw a new congressional map compliant with the Voting Rights Act to Jan. 30.

The state was originally given until Jan. 15 to redraw the map by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. However, a lower court ruled to extend the timeline, as the state claimed in a court filing it could not complete the new map by that time, as it will require Gov.-elect Jeff Landry to be inaugurated and call a special session – which will not be possible until Jan. 8. A special session called by Landry would not begin until seven days later, making the deadline virtually impossible to comply with.

Outgoing Gov. John Bel Edwards will not call a special session for the state Legislature to redraw the congressional map, according to spokesperson Eric Holl. Edwards previously vetoed the map in March 2022, but was overridden by the Legislature.

The current congressional map, drawn by Louisiana’s GOP-controlled Legislature, was struck down in June 2022 by U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick, in a ruling stating the map violated the Voting Rights Act by diluting the power of the state’s Black voters.

While the three-judge panel from the 5th Circuit ruled the urgency of the original order no longer applied, it ruled that the lower court committed no legal errors in finding the map to be unlawful.

If the Legislature does not pass a Voting Rights Act-compliant map by the deadline, the district court will hold a trial to “decide on a plan for the 2024 elections,” per the 5th Circuit’s order.

Louisiana is one of multiple states whose congressional districts have come under scrutiny ahead of the 2024 election. In June, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Black voters in an Alabama redistricting case, finding the state’s congressional map to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act. A federal judge made a similar ruling for Georgia’s state legislative and congressional maps in October.


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