The dog-and-pony show continues over the use of raw judicial power to force Louisiana to adopt two instead of one majority-minority districts for its six congressional districts starting next year, against which Republicans must hold firm.
Understand that’s all it is, as a consequence of a Hail Mary attempt by the political left to create an environment where it likely could win two rather than one House of Representative seats in the state. Emboldened by the decision of a rogue federal judge, the Louisiana Middle District’s Shelly Dick, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards called the Legislature into special session after she ruled the state had to adopt a two M/M plan, as opposed to the one M/M plan passed by the Legislature over Edwards’ veto in a special session earlier this year.
The adopted plan in concept is similar to one in the state of Alabama, which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled would go forward while it would review a suit against it next year. That would address the heart of Dick’s ruling that delivers an unprecedented and ahistorical interpretation that a state’s proportion of congressional M/M districts roughly must match the proportion of black population in it, with the Court making it very clear that it would not rush matters in making its constitutional determination as Dick has done.
Further, Dick’s ruling already has run afoul of the Purcell doctrine used by the courts that dictates federal courts won’t interfere with state election deadlines – which includes pushing back dates set by law – absent extraordinary circumstances. Beginning of the four-week qualification for congressional office by petition starts Jun. 24, with submission of qualification open from Jul. 20-22. She imposed a Jun. 22 date to have the two-district plan in place, giving the Legislature a scant five days to put something in place, essentially an impossible deadline given its internal rules unless waived.
That doctrine formed the basis of the Court’s Alabama ruling, and has become more pronounced since. That is, the Court will adjourn for the term in the next ten days, and it will not take up cases like Alabama’s and Louisiana’s until October, and certainly won’t rule quickly on them. Thus, as Alabama’s one M/M map the Court said remained in effect through this election cycle, so will Louisiana’s.
So, the Republican leadership and party in the Legislature simply must wait until that ruling prevails over Dick’s, no matter what court levies it. Earlier Thursday GOP legislative leaders asked for an extension for the deadline, with the special session to end Jun. 20, but she refused (as part of her response saying the Legislature reapportioned at the behest of a court in six days in 1994 – a rush job ultimately ruled unconstitutional, by the way). Of greater importance, when the three-judge Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel that first stayed, then permitted her order to continue – although it said there wasn’t overwhelming evidence that the state would win to stop it, which in light of the Court’s statement it needed to review the matter thoroughly was inevitable, it noted the state had a decent chance of winning – its also kicked the matter to the entire Fifth Circuit for a Jul. 8 hearing.
That fuller consideration almost certainly, unless it wanted to act deliberately roguishly, would vacate Dick’s order in at most a few days. And if it didn’t for some reason, barring an incredible change of mind at the Court over the past six months, then the Court prior to Jul. 20 would vacate her order. Everybody involved in this process knows this, even if they refuse publicly to admit it.
Which is why Thursday the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee amended SB 1 by Democrat state Sen. Cleo Fields, based on a bill he submitted in the first special session, in a way that left it with a two M/M district distribution – after hearing hours of testimony how that would destroy centuries-old communities of interest that constitutes a valid reapportionment criteria followed by the Legislature in the enacted plan – but with an invalidation trigger that nullifies it in favor of the enacted plan should Dick’s order fall. This Democrats on the committee opposed, which if they really believed Dick’s case was solid they wouldn’t have, only because they know this is what will happen.
They also opposed the panel’s Republican majority in holding over the matter another day to digest the amendments. This guarantees that, absent extraordinary parliamentary maneuvers, that the bill won’t make it to the finish line in time, assuming it even gets the requisite majorities.
Republicans know this, too. They know if they don’t knuckle under to Dick, Democrats, and the special interests driving the litigation that the session will fail, then she’ll blow a gasket and order something like Fields’ original plan onto the state, which will lead to a swift request for a stay of that action and likely would bring about the final death of her order sooner than the timeline built around Jul. 8, to the benefit of the state in terms of conducting the congressional elections in an orderly fashion.
(And for another indicator that everybody knows how this is going to play out, the national media coverage of the controversy is zero. Even the web sites that delve into the minutiae of election rulings, such as the Volokh Conspiracy and, very tellingly, the left-wing Election Law Blog, haven’t devoted a single word to this – and the leftist blog only today in a reposted summary of reapportionment among the states lists Louisiana still with just one likely Democrat seat – as they know the outcome is preordained in favor of the enacted plan.)
It's all so useless and wasteful to taxpayers, of money spent on the special session and in legal fees the state will wrack up, because of the fantasies of the far left with plenty of money to burn (the groups behind the Louisiana plaintiffs have raised hundreds of millions of dollars to blow on election litigation throughout the country) ultimately in a losing effort. If that wasn’t clear before the Alabama ruling, it should have become so then.
But to the extreme left, ultimately it’s not the people but ideology and power that takes precedence. And despite all of their allies in government and with deep pockets, Louisiana’s legislative Republicans simply must stay the course and the left’s unconstitutional agenda will be defeated in this instance.