Supreme Court Allows Louisiana To Cut Black Voting Power in Half
The decision to allow a new district map that was previously ruled to be racially biased opens the door for similar moves in other states.
June 30, 2022 at 1:09 pm
As Blavity previously reported, the Supreme Court has been handing down a slate of conservative rulings on several political and social issues. From abortion to legal proceedings. That trend continued Tuesday when the court ruled to allow Louisiana to move ahead with a redistricting plan that had been stopped for being racially biased. The Supreme Court’s decision allows Louisiana to move forward with its plan for racially-based gerrymandering. An outcome that may impact Black voters not only in that state but in other places around the country as well.
Louisiana Republicans want to cut Black voting power in half
At issue was a Republican-authored plan to redraw Louisiana’s congressional district map ahead of this year’s midterm elections. Even though one-third of Louisiana’s citizens are Black, the Republican-drawn maps would allow for only one of the state’s six congressional districts to be majority Black. Thus, effectively cutting Black representation to half of what it would be under a more fair map.
Such efforts to dilute the vote of racial minorities are forbidden by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, especially in states with a history of discriminatory voting practices. It was on this basis that federal courts had issued an injunction against the state, preventing it from implementing the new, biased map. The Supreme Court overruled these previous rulings, thus allowing Louisiana to move forward with the new map as the 2022 election nears.
Supreme Court continues to undermine Black voting rights
The Louisiana ruling fits into a pattern of the Supreme Court working in recent years to gut the Voting Rights Act and to allow policies that are detrimental to Black voting power. This process began in 2013 when the court’s conservative majority voted to essentially eliminate the preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act. Preclearance meant that states with a history of racial discrimination in voting had to get prior approval before changing voting laws and that such changes would be evaluated based on their racial impact.
Eliminating preclearance thus paved the way for many states to make it harder for Black citizens to vote through restrictive requirements and to decrease the impact of the Black vote by redrawing district lines. Congressional Democrats recently attempted to strengthen voting rights through the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. Unfortunately, both bills stalled in the Senate in the face of opposition from Republicans and the refusal of conservative Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to suspend the filibuster rules to pass the legislation.
The multi-state Republican assault on Black voting continues
With no new voting rights laws coming from Congress, the Supreme Court and various Republican-dominated state governments continue to dismantle preexisting voting protections. The ruling for Louisiana is similar to the Supreme Court’s decision in a similar case in Alabama earlier this year, where the Republican-controlled government also cut the power of the state’s Black voters in half through a gerrymandered map.
Tuesday’s one-page ruling indicated that the Supreme Court may consider both the Louisiana and Alabama cases later this fall. But allowing both states to proceed until then shows a willingness to abide by the racial gerrymandering currently being practiced. While the Supreme Court has supported new voting maps that weaken the Black vote, it has also opposed maps that strengthen Black voting power, striking down such a redistricting plan in Wisconsin because that plan gave too much power to the Black vote.
As other states such as Florida also work to eliminate majority-Black districts, the Supreme Court’s decision signals that such schemes will become the new status quo in GOP-dominated parts of the country. While efforts to fight against these measures continue, the increasingly conservative Supreme Court makes such a fight significantly more difficult.