Louisiana Told to Redraw Its 4th District
Louisiana’s congressional districts must be redrawn because they were made to guarantee the election of two black representatives, a three-judge federal panel ruled Tuesday.
The panel did not invalidate the 1992 election, which gave the state two black congressmen for the first time since Reconstruction, but the ruling said the districts must be redrawn before the 1994 elections.
“We find the plan in general, and Louisiana’s Congressional District 4 in particular, are the product of racial gerrymandering and are not narrowly tailored to further any compelling governmental interest,” said the ruling, written by U.S. District Judge Jacques Wiener Jr. of Shreveport.
State Atty. Gen. Richard Ieyoub’s office issued a statement saying it had not seen the decision and could not comment. It was not known whether the ruling would be appealed.
Louisiana redrew its districts in 1992. It had to eliminate one of its eight districts because census data showed Louisiana’s population growth was not keeping pace with the rest of the nation.
In redrawing the districts, state lawmakers anticipated pressure from federal courts to create a second majority-black district because of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which gives the U.S. Justice Department the final say in state districts.
About 600,000 of Louisiana’s 2.2 million registered voters are black.
To create a second black district, lawmakers had to draw together scattered pockets of black people.
The result was the 64% black 4th District, which zigzags 600 miles through 28 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes.
Four Lincoln Parish residents--three white, one black--sued in July, 1992, claiming the rights of white and black voters were violated.
The Louisiana panel agreed that rights to equal protection were violated and declared unconstitutional the way the districts were drawn.