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Supreme Court Delivers Decision That May Impact 2024 Election

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson raised a key question following the court’s 6-3 ruling this week to allow a Louisiana congressional district map that includes a second mostly black district to be used in the fall elections.

The Supreme Court was called upon to intervene following a string of legal disputes regarding Louisiana’s congressional district redistricting.

Despite being historically Republican, the state faced challenges after a district judge ruled in 2022 that a prior map drawn by GOP-controlled state legislatures infringed upon the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Subsequently, Louisiana’s state legislature endorsed a new map in January that incorporated a second black-majority district.

The previous map aimed to maintain the “status quo” in the state, featuring only one district with a majority of black voters, despite black residents comprising roughly one-third of the state’s population.

Later, disputes over congressional district boundaries were taken to a federal three-judge panel following a challenge by a group of Louisiana voters, who identified as “non-African American,” against the redrawn map. The panel determined that the new map was unconstitutional because it was solely based on racial factors.

On Wednesday, all six conservative Supreme Court justices aligned with a group of black voters to temporarily suspend the panel’s ruling. The decision paves the way for voters to have two black-majority districts in the upcoming November general election.

Halting the panel’s decision will also provide voters with the opportunity to file a complete appeal of the ruling in April. Republicans in Louisiana had urged the Supreme Court to intervene in the case to ensure sufficient time to prepare for Election Day. Secretary of State Nancy Landry emphasized in a previous court filing that a finalized district map by Wednesday was necessary to “accurately administer the congressional election.”

The conservative majority contended that maintaining the district map was essential to prevent confusion among voters so close to November. However, Jackson, who penned the opinion of the three liberal justices opposing the decision, argued that there was sufficient time to redraw a new map before the Supreme Court needed to intervene.

“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.”

Attorneys who represented the group of black voters celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision on Wednesday, saying in a statement that “action ensures that black voters’ voices will not be silenced during this year’s critical elections.”

“While this is not the end of our work to defend that principle, it is a critical moment in our fight for fair maps in Louisiana and reflects the strength of our democracy,” noted Sara Rohani, an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.

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