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Louisiana voters sue over state’s new majority-Black congressional district

A group of Louisiana voters has filed a lawsuit against the state, alleging its new majority-Black congressional district is unconstitutional.

The group of 12 non-Black voters argue the map, which Republican Gov. Jeff Landry signed into law after a special legislative session, violates the 14th and 15th amendments.

“The State has engaged in explicit, racial segregation of voters and intentional discrimination against voters based on race,” the lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit adds that the map has divided communities and separated African American and non-African American voters from their communities.

The battle over the congressional maps began nearly two years ago, when then-Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) vetoed a set of maps passed by the state Legislature in 2022.

At the time, Edwards said having a single majority-Black district — when Black voters make up a third of the state — violated the Voting Rights Act.

A federal judge ruled that the state Legislature had to create a second majority-Black district, though the decision was put on hold by the Supreme Court until last year. In November, an appeals court ordered the state to proceed with a second majority-Black district.

The Congressional Black Caucus celebrated the new map as a “win for Black voters,” but plaintiffs in the new lawsuit argue the map hurts Black and white voters because they can no longer “influence their communities.”

“Instead, both sets of voters are separated from their communities and thrust into districts with other voters hundreds of miles away, with whom they have little in common apart from race,” the plaintiffs state. “The result is they do not have the same power to appeal to their congressional representatives — some of whom may have no knowledge of their region or culture.”

The lawsuit will be heard by a three-judge panel. One judge will come from the 5th Circuit and the other two from the Western District of Louisiana, where the new case was filed.

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