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Civil rights groups sue to block new congressional map

March 31, 2022 GMT

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A coalition of civil rights groups is suing to block Louisiana’s new congressional map, saying the new boundaries violate the Voting Rights Act.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, say the map dilutes the political power of Black voters, The Daily Advertiser reported.

This week, both chambers of the Louisiana Legislature voted mainly along party lines to override Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto of a congressional redistricting bill. It marked the first time in nearly three decades that lawmakers refused to accept a governor’s refusal of a bill they had passed.

The map was passed during a special legislative session called to redraw government district lines to account for population shifts reflected in the 2020 census. The new map is outlined in two identical bills sent to Edwards. The governor vetoed both, saying lawmakers should have included a second majority-Black district among the six districts they approved.

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Wednesday’s House vote was 72-31 — more than the two-thirds needed to turn House Bill 1 into law over Edwards’ objections. State senators voted 27-11 in favor of the bill.

“The (Legislature) once again voted in favor of a map that violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and undermines the will of thousands of Louisianans who made their voices heard throughout the process demanding fair maps and respect for Black Louisianans,” Victoria Wenger, an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said on Twitter.