Louisiana urges Supreme Court to quickly resolve congressional map fight in emergency request

Louisiana officials asked the Supreme Court on Friday to intervene in the ongoing legal fight over the state’s congressional districts, urging the high court to quickly resolve a dispute that has essentially left the state without a viable map for this year’s election.

The emergency appeal came days after civil rights organizations and a group of Black voters separately asked the Supreme Court to step into the case.

“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,” state officials told the Supreme Court. “Louisiana’s impossible situation in this redistricting cycle would be comical if it were not so serious.”

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.

That new map with the two majority-Black districts was drawn in response to another court order that found an earlier map, which had only one majority-Black district, likely ran afoul of the Voting Rights Act. Civil rights groups say the two rulings have left the state “without a congressional map just months away from the 2024 elections.”

The Supreme Court has asked the voters who challenged the second map for a response to the civil rights groups by midday Monday, setting up a possible decision as early as next week, once all the filings are submitted.

Louisiana specifically asked the justices Friday to rely on a legal doctrine called the Purcell principle, which it sometimes invokes to stay out of messy election lawsuits as voting season approaches.

The lower court’s “late-breaking” ruling “plus the court’s blowing through election deadlines in search of an imaginary, litigation-proof 2024 congressional map” should be enough to allow the most recently drawn map to stand for now, the state argued.

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

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