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U.S. Supreme Court grants emergency stay in Louisiana redistricting case

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(The Center Square) — The U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay order on Wednesday in a Louisiana congressional redistricting case.

The decision means the latest maps, which created two majority Black districts, will be used in the upcoming elections.

Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill filed the request with the court on May 10, with state officials saying that they don’t have enough time to draw new maps under a legal concept called the Purcell principle that requires courts to avoid changes to election rules close to an election.

“The Secretary of State has consistently stated she needed a map by May 15,” Murrill said in a news release. “The plaintiffs did not contest it at trial. We will continue to defend the law and are grateful the Supreme Court granted the stay which will ensure we have a stable election season.”

The court’s liberal wing dissented from the order, with Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan indicating that they would’ve denied the stay request. In a dissent, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson said it was too early for Purcell and no reason for the court to intervene at this point in the case.

As reported earlier by The Center Square, Louisiana officials said in the filing that the deadlines handed down by the three-judge panel from the U.S. District Court of Western Louisiana were unworkable. The court said the redraw period would’ve started two days after the Wednesday deadline, concluded with a hearing on May 30 and new districts would be required from lawmakers by June 30.

The request for a stay came after a three-judge panel issued an order on April 30 in favor of a group of “non-African American” voters who say the new maps represented a racial gerrymander as lawmakers tried to satisfy an order for two majority Black districts by another federal court.

The Legislature adopted new maps during a five-day special session called by Gov. Jeff Landry to address a court order from U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick to redraw the state’s congressional districts by Jan. 31.

The order was issued in the case known as Robinson v. Landry. Plaintiffs in that case said Black voters were unable to vote for the candidate of their choice with only one majority Black congressional district in the 2022 maps. Dick ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and ordered lawmakers to draw a new map.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case.