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Supreme Court Revives Republican-Drawn Voting Map in Louisiana

That district, the Second Congressional District, is more than 60 percent Black and snakes along the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. Much of it is surrounded by the Sixth District, which is one-third Black.

Judge Shelly D. Dick of the Federal District Court in Baton Rouge found that the map violated the Voting Rights Act by packing Black voters into a single district and then splitting the remaining ones among the five other districts. Judge Dick, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, ordered the Legislature to produce a revised map.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit refused to stay Judge Dick’s order while an appeal moved forward, though it said her opinion “was not without weaknesses.” The unsigned opinion was joined by Judge Jerry E. Smith, appointed by President Ronald Reagan; Judge Stephen A. Higginson, appointed by Mr. Obama; and Judge Don R. Willett, appointed by President Donald J. Trump.

A different panel of the appeals court had been scheduled to hear arguments in the case on July 8.

In the Alabama case, the justices in February temporarily blocked a voting map that would have added a second congressional district in which Black voters made up a majority in that state. The court is set to hear arguments in the case, Merrill v. Milligan, when the justices return to the bench in October.

In earlier decisions, the Supreme Court effectively gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which had required federal approval of changes to state and local voting laws in parts of the country with a history of racial discrimination, and cut back on Section 2 of the law, limiting the ability of minority groups to challenge voting restrictions.

The cases from Louisiana and Alabama also concern Section 2, but in the context of redistricting.

Section 2 bars any voting procedure that “results in a denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race.” That happens, the provision goes on, when, “based on the totality of circumstances,” racial minorities “have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.”

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