Yesterday, the leaders of the two chambers of the Louisiana legislature, Senate President Page Cortez and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, were ordered to appear in federal court in Baton Rouge. While there, they were subjected to a lengthy and threatening harangue from Judge Shelly Dick. The threats included being jailed if they did not comply with her order to redraw Louisiana’s congressional district map so as to include a second minority district.
Now think about that for a moment. The leaders of the legislative branch of our government, who were elected by the state senators and representatives who were in turn elected by the people of Louisiana, are being threatened with jail for not undoing the work of redistricting which they had only just completed. If intimidating legislators, who after all represent the sovereign will of the people in a democracy, seems more like something a Communist dictator would do than a United States federal judge, well that is exactly the point.
Judge Dick is certainly free to draw up her own redistricting map, which would in turn be submitted to the scrutiny of higher courts. However, forcing legislatures to do something they most assuredly do not wish to do, by threatening their leaders with jail, is not a place where any democratic country should wish to go. The legislature has already spoken to the issue of redistricting. It is the courts’ turn to do what they will.
LOUIS GURVICH, Chairman
Republican Party of Louisiana