Editorial Roundup: Louisiana

The Advocate. June 28, 2022.

Editorial: When lawmakers thumb their noses at the law

The Louisiana Legislature makes laws, so one would presume that its leaders do not consider themselves above the law.

You wouldn’t know it from the bad faith they showed when called into special session by Gov. John Bel Edwards to redraw the state’s congressional district maps, following a federal judge’s ruling that the previously adopted maps fell short of standards set by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Rather than complying with U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick’s order to create two of six districts in which the Black voters who make up a third of Louisiana’s population have a good chance of electing someone of their choice, the Republican-dominated Legislature audaciously punted, hoping the upper courts that view the civil rights law skeptically will help them keep the 5-1 GOP advantage in the delegation.

We’re not naïve enough to think that’s not a possibility. Nor are we mystified by the behavior of the legislative majority’s members, who are looking to protect friendly incumbents and also help the GOP retake control of the U.S. House. Flipping a Louisiana seat from Republican to likely Democratic doesn’t help that cause.

But these are political motivations, not legal arguments — Dick was right to label legislators’ weak claim of having tried “insincere” — and they certainly don’t address very serious questions over the underlying fairness of the legislatively adopted maps that she rejected.

In our system, the math is supposed to count, even if it conflicts with some people’s calculations.