In Louisiana, the state legislature has control over the redistricting process. The redistricted maps are introduced as bills in the Senate and the House, and can be vetoed by the Governor. If the legislature fails to pass a plan, the state Supreme Court draws its own plan.
(Brennan Center; Ballotpedia)
Louisiana faced special scrutiny under the Voting Rights Act as a state with a history of using district lines as tools of racial discrimination, so all district maps had to be reviewed and preapproved by the U.S. Department of Justice before implementation. (Ballotpedia) This changed on June 25, 2013, when the Supreme Court swept away a key provision of this landmark civil rights law in Shelby County v. Holder.
The Supreme Court ruled that the coverage formula in Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act — which determines which jurisdictions are covered by Section 5 and includes the state of Louisiana as a whole — is unconstitutional because it is based on an old formula. As a practical matter this means that Section 5 is inoperable until Congress enacts a new coverage formula, which the decision invited Congress to do.
On June 13, 2018, nine African-American voters in Louisiana filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s 2011 congressional plan as a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). (Johnson v. Ardoin; Brennan Center; AP News; see also 2011 Legal Requirements for Redistricting in Louisiana)
Plaintiffs allege that the legislature packed African-American voters into the Second Congressional District and split African-American voters among three other congressional districts, rather than unifying them to create a second majority-minority district, thereby having the effect of diluting their voting strength and political influence.
The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the map violates Section 2 of the VRA and enjoin the state from using the current map in any further congressional elections. The plaintiffs are also asking the court to require that the state adopt a new congressional plan that includes a second majority-minority district.
A grassroots group called Fair Districts Louisiana was formed in 2017 as a nonpartisan alliance of citizens advocating for redistricting reform.