Not as many as have happened to date in Louisiana concerning its judicial system. The latest court case involves a challenge filed this week to the way the state drew Supreme Court districts. A national interest group hooked up with the state’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter in alleging that the seven districts containing just one majority-minority district exists in a state with a third of its voters non-white is unconstitutional.
The state very likely wins this case on the basis of the very latest jurisprudence concerning drawing district boundaries. A state may use partisanship as a criteria for drawing these, as long as the districts produced remain reasonably compact and contiguous, so that party may not become a proxy for race. Partisan questions like that remain beyond the reach of the judiciary, and Louisiana’s districts appear reasonably compact and are contiguous. As judicial oversight of the state’s districts – in this case congressional – in the past has shown, just because much of Louisiana’s black population doesn’t congregate geographically doesn’t mean you must constitutionally draw districts using districts of low compactness and barely contiguous to account for that.
Regrettably, the complaint rehashes tired and failed arguments made elsewhere, such as in a judicial reapportionment case in Terrebone Parish, and cast racial insinuations where none exist, such as the debate over whether current Chief Justice Bernette Johnson qualified to assume that post. The only potentially valid point it may raise comes from possible lack of equiproportional districts, but jurisprudence gives states fairly substantial latitude on this issue for drawing lines for this kind of district, so even if the current map were found unconstitutional for this reason, relatively similar districts could be drawn that would not necessitate production of two minority-majority districts.
But if you think this attempt to usurp constitutional authority from the people’s ability to make democratic decisions questionable, consider the ongoing saga of Ronnie Anderson, who is black and whose lawyer Niles Haymer keeps insisting his client can’t get a fair shake in in East Feliciana Parish because its courthouse has a statue honoring the Confederacy outside.
A district judge laughed out of court the illogical and silly argumentation behind that, and now a state appellate court did the same, unusually without comment despite a 2-1 vote. This follows the recent trend of Louisiana courts in deciding that the meting of justice has everything to do with the conduct of the state’s representatives and juries and nothing to do with symbols that invite a multitude of interpretations – if anybody even notices their presences – in the nearby area outside the courtroom.
There’s no racism in either of these episodes. Instead, special interests who keep losing elections because they have inferior arguments on the issues and lawyers wanting to make a name for themselves want to circumvent the system to get some wins. Reasonable and informed judges likely will thwart their attempts.