Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Supreme Court decision in Louisiana voting rights case ‘not a clear win’ for Black voters

Civil rights activists and legal experts have conflicting opinions on the Supreme Court’s decision to potentially have Louisiana redraw its congressional map amid legal claims that its current map discriminates against Black voters.   

Alanah Odoms, executive director at the ACLU of Louisiana, told theGrio that the high court’s decision is a moment of “jubilee” and characterized it as “bending the arc toward justice for Black voters.”

FILE – The Supreme Court is seen on April 21, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

“This is a celebratory day…I think [for] our ancestors — John Lewis, Fannie Lou Hamer — all of the folks who were part of the Civil Rights Movement who were fighting so hard for voting rights for African American people,” she added. 

On the contrary, Cliff Albright, executive director of Black Voters Matter, told theGrio, “This is not the clear win that some people are interpreting it as,” but said it is “certainly better than what we thought the alternative would be.” 

On Monday, the Supreme Court dismissed Republicans’ efforts to prohibit Louisiana’s congressional map from being redrawn to add another majority-Black district.

The justices rejected Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s appeal of a federal judge’s decision to redraw the state’s congressional map because it was unconstitutional and discriminated on the basis of race.

Black voters and civil rights activists criticized the 2022 congressional map and filed lawsuits alleging the map would make it nearly impossible for Black voters to have a voice in elections, Reuters reported.

Odoms told theGrio that the Supreme Court “is sending a clear message that section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is still a powerful and necessary provision” to protect Black Americans’ fundamental rights.

“The Voting Rights Act is one of the most fundamental pieces of civil rights legislation that was ever enacted. Unfortunately, over time, with the kind of advent of a more conservative Supreme Court,” Black Americans have faced challenges, said Odoms.

Members of the Supreme Court sit for a new group portrait following the addition of Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, at the Supreme Court building in Washington, Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Supreme Court’s decision to no longer grant certiorari to this case means that the fate of Louisiana’s map is in the hands of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which will then decide the fate of the Louisiana map. 

Albright told theGrio that the Supreme Court sent this case “back to the 5th circuit, which could still rule in such a way as to prove what we know to be racist maps. He added, “This is not a clear case where the appeals court has been ordered to do the right thing.” 

Some believe that the conservative New Orleans court based in the 5th circuit, which is comprised of several Trump-appointed circuit judges, will move forward to implement the discriminatory map. 

However, Odoms argued, “[The court] has a clear directive that they are to strike down the discriminatory map and allow for the presentation of evidence on the creation of a new map to actually meet the standard.”

Odoms told theGrio that she does believe there could be some pushback from the appellate court. 

I would imagine that they will continue to … oppose the drawing of a fair map,” she said. 

This latest decision by the Supreme Court comes after it ruled that Alabama must redraw its unconstitutional congressional map to be more inclusive of Black voters, as theGrio previously reported.

Although many are happy with the Supreme Court’s decisions to call out Republicans’ efforts to create discriminatory maps, Albright told theGrio that it should have done so sooner.

“By not acting sooner, they allowed for racist undemocratic maps to be used during the midterms,” in states like Alabama, Louisiana and Florida, he said.

He added, “The Supreme Court could have decided on last year in such a way that there would have been more majority Black seats in Congress.”

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