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Judge will intervene after legislature fails to draw map with two majority-black districts

The legislative session ended early, in spite of court order

NEW ORLEANS — When the Louisiana Legislature sent a map with only one majority African-American district to Governor John Bel Edwards' desk, he vetoed it.

After the Louisiana GOP ended the legislative session two days early on Saturday without drawing up a map, the Governor expressed his disappointment in a public statement.

"It is disappointing that after every opportunity to do the right thing and create a second majority African-American Congressional district as ordered by the U.S. Court for the Middle District, the Legislature has once again failed to do so," Edwards said in a statement. 

This abrupt adjourning of the legislative session comes after a federal judge had ordered a map with two majority Black districts to be made by June 20.

If the legislature is unable to make a new map by the 20th, the judge will draw up a map herself.

Louisiana's secretary of state and attorney general asked the Supreme Court to put a hold on the judge's order last week, claiming the order 'throws the election process into chaos and creates confusion statewide.' 

Edwards vetoed the original map because it violated the Voting Rights Act. 

"According to the latest U.S. Census, Louisiana’s voting population is one-third Black, which means that our congressional map of six districts should contain at least two majority African-American districts so long as they can be drawn in a manner that satisfies the legal principles governing redistricting," Edwards said.

Edwards expressed his disappointment that such a decision by the state GOP occurred on Juneteenth of all days.

"The irony of all ironies is that for the first time yesterday, Louisiana recognized Juneteenth as an official state holiday," Edwards said. 

"And today, on the actual holiday, which celebrates the day when enslaved Americans learned of their freedom, it is clear that our African-American brothers and sisters are still fighting for fair representation. Louisiana, we can and should do better than this.”

State Representative Royce Duplessis slammed the legislature's conduct and said their actions hurt Louisiana's reputation.

"When we make decisions like this, we send a message to the rest of the country that we are choosing to be the Louisiana of the past. And we're not choosing to be the Louisiana of the future," Duplessis said. 

"It sends a message to all of the young people who are growing up in this state, particularly young black people, that we will not give you full representation."

Duplessis says that the federal government may have to intervene to do what is necessary.

"The judge has made very clear that if the legislature did not come up with a new map by the 20th, then she would engage with a special master and draw a map for us," Duplessis said. 

"And I think that continues to add to the legacy of Louisiana whereby people of color, that their rights and representation in the political process has only come through federal intervention. So it's a very, very sad day, especially as we celebrate God." 

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