Both sides react to SCOTUS’s pause on redrawing state congressional map

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 4:43 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2022 at 6:13 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The stay on this case, or pause if you will, puts the entire lawsuit in flux potentially until sometime in 2023. That means until then, Democrats, the NAACP and the Legislative Black Caucus essentially have their hands tied for the upcoming midterm elections.

“I was extremely disappointed but quite honestly, I wasn’t surprised. This Supreme Court has showcased time and time again that they will use the emergency relief and shadow docket to make rulings on merits of the case,” said Davante Lewis with the Louisiana Budget Project.

With federal judge Shelly Dick’s case to redraw the state’s congressional map thrown out, those who have advocated for a second Black majority district will now head into the midterm elections with none of the changes they asked for. Davante Lewis was one of the folks who sued the state, alleging lawmakers’ version of the map violated the Voting Rights Act. He hopes this news will not discourage Black voters from turning out in November.

“I don’t know if it will discourage, but it is a stain. I mean, I think one of the things that we have showcased over our history is that racism will prevail over the constitution every step of the way,” Lewis continued.

“They’re going to have to wait until the Supreme Court makes another decision. And, the Supreme Court has indicated that will not be until they rule on the Alabama case. And then eventually though, we’re going to have a full trial on the merits of this case,” said state Rep. John Stefanski (R).

Crowly Representative John Stefanski is the Republican who led the effort to draw the state’s congressional map. He said trying to create one that makes everyone happy was by far the toughest thing he has had to do as a lawmaker.

“It’s difficult, it just is. It’s some tough conversations with my colleagues. I try to respect their point of view, and I hope they try to respect my point of view. But, it is obviously a very tough conversation to have,” Rep. Stefanski added.

Although they disagree on the map, both Stefanski and Lewis said the system we have is not perfect.

“I think the step forward is allowing an independent commission and the people to have the right to see congressional districts and legislative districts form without political bias and party power being at the center of deciding how people are being represented,” said Lewis.

“I would ask if we looked at a different type of way to do it, what’s the motivation? Is the motivation to get the politics out of it? I don’t think you’re ever going to get the politics out of it,” Rep. Stefanski explained.

Davante Lewis said he believes the pressure is now back on the Democratic majority in the House and Senate of the U.S. Congress to pass a new Voting Rights Act, particularly the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. He said he believes that will stop the courts from further “destroying the Voting Rights Act.”

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