Federal Court Finds Louisiana Engaged in Intentional Racial Discrimination in At-Large Judicial Elections [Corrected]

From the 91-page opinion, also finding Voting Rights Act discriminatory effect:

District-based voting was rejected for the 32nd JDC on at least six occasions between 1997 and 2011. Taken as a whole, this timeline shows discriminatory intent. Local white officials, including the judges on the 32nd JDC, originally wanted an additional judgeship, but when black advocates requested that the new judgeship be elected from a subdistrict, this request was withdrawn. This occurred again with the Houma City Court—requests for an additional judgeship were made, and when local white officials heard that a request was made for a subdistrict, they got involved and effectively defeated the request. In 2011, when the request was not for an additional judgeship, but rather for a rearrangement of the method of election, the reasons offered in opposition appeared even more pretextual. The Court is unwilling to accept that the lack of public comment or the failure of the Judicial Council to issue an opinion were the true reasons behind the opposition. Accordingly, the Court finds that this pattern shows that a motivating purpose in maintaining the at-large electoral scheme for the 32nd JDC was to limit the opportunity of black individuals to participate meaningfully and effectively in the political process to elect judges of their choice.

Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly stated the entity that the court found engaged in intentional discrimination: it is the state of Louisiana, not the county. See also this release from the NAACP LDF.

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