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Supreme Court Decision May Impact 2024 Race

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. Supreme Court brought up an important question after the court’s 6-3 decision this week to let a Louisiana congressional district map with a second mostly black district be used in the fall elections.

Lawsuits over Louisiana’s redistricting of congressional districts led to a request for the Supreme Court to step in. Even though the state has a history of being Republican, it had problems after a district judge said in 2022 that a map made by state legislatures controlled by Republicans violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act. After that, in January, Louisiana’s state legislature approved a new map that added a second district with a majority of black people.

The old map tried to keep things the same in the state by having only one district with a majority of black voters, even though black people make up about one-third of the state’s population.

A group of “non-African American” voters in Louisiana later took the issue of congressional district boundaries to a federal panel of three judges, saying they did not agree with the new map. The group decided that the new map was not legal because it was based only on racial factors.

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All six conservative Supreme Court justices sided with a group of black voters on Wednesday to put the panel’s decision on hold for now. The decision makes it possible for voters to choose from two districts with majorities of black people in the upcoming general election in November.

By stopping the panel’s decision, voters will also have time in April to file a full appeal of the decision. Republicans in Louisiana had asked the Supreme Court to get involved so that people would have enough time to get ready for Election Day. In a previous court filing, Secretary of State Nancy Landry stressed how important it was to have a finalized district map by Wednesday in order to “accurately administer the congressional election.”

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At this point, the conservative majority said that keeping the district map was necessary to keep voters from getting confused. Jackson, one of the three liberal justices who wrote the opinion against the decision, said that there was enough time to make a new map before the Supreme Court had to step in.

“Over more than two years of litigation, separate groups of voters have challenged Louisiana’s congressional maps,” Jackson wrote. “… That careful scrutiny is fitting: The question of how to elect representatives consistent with our shared commitment to racial equality is among the most consequential we face as a democracy.”

“The question before us today, though, is far more quotidian: When does Louisiana need a new map for the November 2024 election?” continued the Biden appointee.

Jackson contended that there was “little risk of voter confusion” if a new map was redrawn before November. The federal appeals panel had mandated that Louisiana’s legislature produce a completely new map by June 3. Should lawmakers fail to meet this deadline, the judges would then create their own map before the November elections, Newsweek reported.

“Rather than wading in now, I would have let the District Court’s remedial process run its course before considering whether our emergency intervention was warranted,” Jackson concluded. “Therefore, I respectfully dissent.”

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