New Orleans CityBusiness picked up an article from the Louisiana Illuminator which had some head-scratching quotes in it. Specifically there were utterances from Jared Evans, who is the NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyer representing the black plaintiffs whose lawsuit brought on federal judge Shelly Dick’s ruling that Louisiana’s congressional map wasillegal.
Evans is making some claims we’re not very sure will turn out to reflect reality.
The lawsuit, brought by a group of Black Louisiana voters, is filed against the state’s top election official, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin. Louisiana Senate President Page Cortez, House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Attorney General Jeff Landry are co-defendants and fellow Republicans.
“It’s basically a race to see who rules first,” said Jared Evans, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund attorney who represents plaintiffs in the case. “Our side wants the Middle District to draw a map ASAP and have that become law first. The other side wants SCOTUS to rule ASAP and grant the stay.”
New map by June 29
The most immediate ruling could come June 29 from federal Judge Shelly Dick of the U.S. Middle District Court of Louisiana. Evans said the court will adopt a map that features a second majority-minority district, which the judge, in her June 6 ruling, identified as the appropriate remedy in the case.
Dick gave the Louisiana Legislature the opportunity to redraw the map approved in February. Their second special redistricting session of the year ended Saturday when the lone bill that made it out of committee died on the Senate floor.
It was a session that the Republican-dominated Legislature held unwillingly after Dick, an appointee of President Barack Obama, ruled that the U.S. House districts lawmakers approved in February had been racially gerrymandered. That map features just one majority-Black district and five majority-white districts despite the state having nearly one-third Black population.
Lawmakers had until this past Monday to submit a map with a second majority-Black district or else the judge would enact a map of her choosing. Dick has scheduled a June 29 hearing where the plaintiffs are expecting her to enact the map that same day.
The timing of the upcoming June 29 ruling may be just as important as what the ruling says. Absent any higher court rulings that say otherwise, the district court’s map would immediately become law in Louisiana, and the secretary of state will be legally bound to immediately begin planning the 2022 elections with respect to the new districts, Evans said.
“We fully expect to have a map in place by the end of this month, and the [secretary of state] will be obligated to start implementing it right away,” Evans said. “He can’t say he’s waiting on the 5th Circuit or SCOTUS to rule.”
The article then has Evans saying they’re prepared for the eventuality of things not going how he’s describing them, ” such as if Ardoin purposely tries to slow-walk the new election plan.”
And then it talks about the defendants – Ardoin, Landry, Cortez and Schexnayder – counting on the Supreme Court to grant a stay.
But we’re not sure that’s how this is going to go either.
Our read on this is that Kyle Ardoin is going to sit on his hands until the Fifth Circuit’s hearing on July 8 regardless of what Dick does on June 29, because nobody other than Evans and his camp believes there will ultimately be a court decision mandating two safe Democrat districts.
And we’re saying “safe Democrat districts,” because that’s what this is really about. Any attempts to make two majority-black districts, which are expressly a goal for partisan hacks like Shelly Dick and John Bel Edwards and the NAACP emanating from the idea that black people can’t be adequately represented by anything but black people, would likely produce a white Democrat congresscritter in at least one of the two districts, if not both.
Which is why Troy Carter, who represents the one safe Democrat district in the current map, has been completely silent this whole time until a couple of days ago. Carter knows that making a second black-majority district would entail taking away some of his black constituents and replacing them with white ones, and that could end up resulting in somebody like Walt Leger or Mandie Landry beating him.
Which would never happen now. Troy Carter doesn’t want a 4-2 map. He likes the 5-1 map. He just wants to keep that information to himself.
But the Edwardses and Dicks want a 4-2 map because that’s how you get Congressman Jay Luneau or Robbie Carter or some other white Democrat pol who can trail in a few black votes. You can doubt that if you want, but it’s pretty obvious if you look at the math.
So let’s say Ardoin sits on his hands after Dick orders him to process her personal congressional map on June 29.
Evans and the NAACP will probably file a writ of mandamus, or some similar motion, with Dick, and she’ll grant it. Then she’ll threaten Ardoin, just like she threatened Schexnayder, with contempt and potentially jail, if he doesn’t begin publishing that map.
But if he does, there is a serious question that he’d be voiding the appeal of Dick’s decision at the Fifth Circuit. The last thing you want to do is make that appeal moot by acting upon Dick’s map.
Which is why we expect Ardoin will tell Dick “Nope” when she orders him to implement her map.
And if Shelly Dick then tries to hold him in contempt and send marshals to put him in the hoosegow, two things will be true. First, Kyle Ardoin will then become a folk hero among the majority of Louisianans, and second, he’ll probably go on vacation somewhere nice for a couple of weeks. Like Mar-a-Lago, for example.
And then either the Supreme Court or the Fifth Circuit will put an end to this idiotic charade. Because Shelly Dick’s 4-2 map will be based almost completely on race, and the state of federal law is expressly that congressional maps cannot be based primarily on race. Then the 5-1 map the Legislature passed over Edwards’ veto will be the one we vote on this fall.
And once that’s done, it’ll be time for the political recriminations against Shelly Dick and John Bel Edwards to begin. Maybe even against the Legislative Black Caucus, whose abusive language against Schexnayder during the short-lived special session on redistricting last week indicated that somehow they thought he had promised them a 4-2 congressional map. Failing to deliver on that promise, whether he granted it or not, makes his little alliance with them untenable – and perhaps at long last Schexnayder will finally realize the necessity of closing ranks with the conservatives in the House.