The Procedural Train Wreck Before the Court This Week in the LA Congressional Redistricting Case

The stay applications before the Supreme Court this week on Louisiana’s congressional map represent the biggest procedural quagmire in a Voting Rights Act I can recall seeing:

1. One federal court held that Louisiana’s newly enacted map, after the 2020 Census, violated the VRA.

2. When LA then then enacted a remedial map, a different federal court held the remedial map violated the Constitution. So right now, LA has no valid map for this year’s congressional elections.

3. But on top of this, LA’s Secretary of State has told the Court she has to have a map in place by May 15th — Wednesday — to meet critical election deadlines that start rolling out.

The stay issues will be fully briefed before the Court this am. LA asks the Court to stay the second federal court decision, let it use a map this fall which that lower court has has held unconstitutional, but also hear the case on the merits down the road.

4. On the merits, if the Court agrees to hear the case this fall, the case presents the tension between the use of race in redistricting that the VRA might require and the constitutional constraints that also apply to the use of race in redistricting (particularly when a State is creating a remedial map after a judicial finding that the VRA requires a remedy). This is the search for what Chief Justice Roberts called, in the case I argued on these issues from Alabama, “the sweet spot” on the use of race in redistricting.

Update: Now that the opposing briefs have been filed, I can report that the respondents take issue with the Secretary of State’s assertion that a map must be in place by May 15th. They also argue that remedial proceedings are currently going on before the second federal court, which has committed to adopting a remedial map by June 4th.

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