Is it a done deal? Maybe not. The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus has issued a statement claiming that Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal and some of his supporters in the Legislature “decided that partisanship and incumbent protection were more important than complying with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
The Caucus intends to work with the U.S. Department of Justice and will urge against pre-clearance of both redistricting plans. A lawsuit will likely be filed. Keep in mind that the redistricting plans were passed by a Republican governor and GOP-controlled Legislature; the U.S. Department of Justice is now under Democratic control with a black U.S. Attorney General.
Louisiana is not alone in having to get pre-clearance of redistricting plans from the U.S. Justice Department. So must the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
Two key issues for Louisiana will be the failure of the Legislature to create a third black state House district in Shreveport. The House and Governmental Affairs Committee approved such a plan, but it was changed by an amendment on the House floor – with the urging of the governor.
Also at issue is the fact that the Legislature turned thumbs down on a Congressional district in north Louisiana that would have been conducive for a Democrat and/or black to run in. Jindal threatened to veto such a plan and insisted, instead, on two overwhelming white districts in north Louisiana.
All of that aside, some legislators are still bristling over the fact that Jindal interjected himself into the redistricting process, which is supposed to be the exclusive domain of the Legislature, after he promised at the beginning of the special session that he would not do so.
Some political observers believe that the hard feelings will carry over to the regular session of the Legislature, which begins on April 25 and runs through June 23.
They also suggest that Jindal’s grip on the Legislature is beginning to slip, which means that the governor may have a difficult time in the upcoming session getting his budget approved and trying to cope with a nearly $1.6 billion state budget deficit.
The governor wants to use one-time revenues to help close budget gaps, and some legislators are already expressing opposition to such stop-gap measures.
The messy session has left good-government groups calling for an independent commission to do redistricting in the future. The problem is...who will appoint the commission?
by By Lou Gehrig Burnett, Publisher of Fax-Net