Louisiana House speaker, Senate president ask judge for more time to draw congressional map
U.S. Middle Louisiana District Judge Shelly Dick has ordered House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Senate President Page Cortez to appear in her courtroom Thursday to explain why they've asked for more time to draw a new congressional map.
On June 6 Dick gave the Legislature until June 20 to draw a map that adds a second Black district to comply with the Voting Rights Act.
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards subsequently called a six-day Special Session that begins Wednesday and concludes June 20 to redraw the boundaries of the state's six congressional districts.
Schexnayder and Cortez filed a motion Monday asking for an extension until at least June 30 because "five days is not enough time for the Legislature to complete the most difficult task a legislative body ever undertakes."
"The June 20 deadline is unattainable," the motion says.
In response, Dick issued a show cause order Tuesday in which she ordered Schexnayder and Cortez to appear before in person at 9 a.m. Thursday.
The state is asking the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Dick's order, but until the appeals court issues a ruling, Dick's order remains in effect.
Louisiana's Legislature passed the new map during a Special Session in February, but civil rights groups filed a lawsuit challenging the map because it didn't add a second Black district despite the Black population increasing to about one-third.
Edwards vetoed the map, saying it was unfair and unconstitutional.
But Republicans secured the two-thirds votes needed in both the House (72-31) and Senate (27-11) to override Edwards' veto on March 30.
Louisiana's new six-district Congressional map kept a similar configuration to the previous one with a single majority-Black district based in New Orleans and part of Baton Rouge represented by Democratic Congressman Troy Carter of New Orleans.
Qualifying for Louisiana's Nov. 8 congressional election is set for July 20-22 for now.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.