Louisiana Seeks Supreme Court Intervention in Congressional Map Dispute

Louisiana officials file emergency petition with US Supreme Court to intervene in congressional map dispute, seeking to prevent "chaos" in 2024 elections. The court's decision could set a precedent for considering race in redrawing congressional boundaries nationwide.

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Nitish Verma
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Louisiana Seeks Supreme Court Intervention in Congressional Map Dispute

Louisiana Seeks Supreme Court Intervention in Congressional Map Dispute

Louisiana officials have filed an emergency petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking to intervene in a dispute over the state's congressional map and prevent "chaos" in the upcoming 2024 elections. The petition, filed on Friday, aims to freeze litigation and allow the state to use a previously rejected map, citing the risk of electoral confusion and chaos.

Why this matters: This case has significant implications for the representation of Louisiana's congressional districts and could impact the balance of power in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Supreme Court's decision could also set a precedent for how mapmakers consider race when redrawing congressional boundaries, affecting elections nationwide.

The state's plea is the latest development in a years-long battle over racial gerrymandering in Louisiana. At issue is a map drawn by state lawmakers that included a second majority-Black district in Louisiana's six-district congressional plan. A conservative-leaning lower court struck down that map last week, finding that it violated the Constitution's equal protection clause.

Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill filed the emergency stay application with the Supreme Court on May 10, ahead of the state's May 15 deadline for the Secretary of State to begin implementing a congressional map for the 2024 elections. The court has set a deadline of Monday, May 13, at 11 a.m. Eastern for the other parties to respond.

Murrill's court filing argues that the case "screams for a Purcell stay" to prevent disruption and unfair consequences for candidates, political parties, and voters. "This case screams for a Purcell stay. The late-breaking injunction—plus the court's blowing through election deadlines in search of an imaginary, litigation-proof 2024 congressional map—is the precise sort of late judicial tinkering with elections law," Murrill stated.

The dispute began after the 2020 Census, when Louisiana lawmakers were tasked with creating new congressional maps with approximately equal populations in each district. However, every proposed map has been tied up in federal courts since the first one was adopted for the 2022 election. The three-judge panel gave lawmakers until June 3 to approve a new map, but Murrill argues that this deadline is too close to the election.

Civil rights groups argue that the two rulings have left the state without a congressional map just months away from the 2024 elections. "Five days out from May 15—the date by which the Louisiana Secretary of State needs to begin implementing a congressional map for the 2024 elections—Louisiana has no congressional map," the state's emergency petition stated.

The Supreme Court's decision could have national implications, as it raises fundamental questions about how mapmakers consider race when they redraw congressional boundaries every decade. It could also affect control of the U.S. House, given the narrow majority Republicans currently hold in that chamber.

The outcome of this dispute will impact the 2024 election and the representation of Louisiana's congressional districts. If the Supreme Court does not intervene, the Louisiana Legislature will be required to pass a new map by June 3, or the court will construct one themselves. The state is hoping thehigh courtwill allow the most recently drawn map to stand for now, but only time will tell how the justices will rule on this consequential case.