Nathan Wilson | Reporter
Governor John Bel Edwards called a press conference March 30 to respond after the legislature overrode his veto of their congressional district map.
Edwards began the press conference by remarking on severe storms that stuck north Louisiana March 30. He provided updates on reports of tornado activity, overturned semi trucks and a family rescued from a home in Natchitoches after it was struck by a fallen tree.
In his address, Edwards illustrated census results showing the percentage of African American Louisiana residents has increased. “When the population of our state is one-third African American… then simple math and simple fairness means that two of those districts need to be minority districts.” he said. “There are exactly half as many as there should be in Louisiana.”
Edwards expressed disappointment with the political process of creating congressional districts. “The single most partisan thing that happens is redistricting. The bill that has the most self-interest at stake is redistricting,” he said. “Nobody should have to have a voting rights act to tell them what is right and fair.”
Edwards asserted the map’s passage proves Louisiana needs to return to judicial pre-clearance. “The state of Louisiana, even in 2022, is not ready to come out of some form of supervision and that is sad. That is tragic. It didn’t have to be this way.” Preclearance was a requirement of the 1965 voting rights act, which required state and local government to submit new voting maps for review by the judiciary to ensure fairness for ethnic minorities. A Supreme Court decision in 2013 removed Louisiana from the preclearance requirement arguing the criteria for its inclusion was outdated.
Speaking on the possibility of legal challenges, Edwards expressed, “I can’t imagine there is a more compelling case for the courts to take a look at and to overturn.” A similar challenge to Alabama’s congressional district map argued for the creation of two majority-minority congressional districts before being struck down by the Supreme Court in February.
Standing behind his failed veto, Edwards chided the rationale of the map’s proponents, which emphasized altering the contours of existing congressional districts as little as possible. “You would disregard any demographic change that is reflected by the census and, in fact, that is what happened here.” he said. “I slept good last night. I’m going to sleep good tonight, because I did the right thing.”
Nathan Wilson | Reporter