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LA left flails in defending defective map

Louisiana’s political left finds itself in a pickle as it seeks to defend the indefensible new congressional map, with its members already signaling they have nothing up to snuff.

Within days of the special session last month to redraw the plan under the threat of a federal court potentially to do the same, voters across the state filed suit to invalidate it. The map substantially reorganizes boundaries of the northeast-to-central, northwest and western, and Baton Rouge-to-the-southern-coast districts, most prominently creating a district acting as a dagger into Shreveport with the handle slicing up Lafayette and Baton Rouge. In the process, the new map manages except for Bossier City to crack every major city in the state between various districts.

It was, in words repeated on the record often by its legislative supporters, designed deliberately with race in mind to create two majority-minority districts to avoid a court from doing that. They didn’t mention that it destroys communities of interest, violating one criterion of reapportionment accepted in statute and the courts, and that it measures out similarly to a district in a plan determined unconstitutional three decades ago for those reasons.

But now this is all the left has available. The plaintiffs in the original case want theirs dismissed, but even if that judge doesn’t, it’s the new map that will be under litigation. So, the left is stuck with it and must put lipstick on this pig.

The house organ of it, the web site Louisiana Illuminator funded by far-left sources reflected in its writing and story choices, did its best upon reporting of the suit. It took isolated comments from legislators about how the map was drawn for “political” reasons, harkening to a couple of other reapportionment criteria recognized by the courts as valid: protection of incumbents and its relative, seeking partisan advantage.

Just the slightest scrutiny demolishes this argument. The new map deliberately sacrifices incumbent Republican Rep. Garret Graves, from Baton Rouge, by giving him a hostile district to his reelection chances while making it favorable for a Democrat. Also dividing the city is the district with incumbent Republican Rep. Julia Letlow, based in Monroe, who now likely would face a challenge from Graves (congressmen only have to live in the state which they represent, not necessarily the district) if the map were to be used for elections later this year.

In short, you can’t argue either an incumbent or party was protected under the plan. Just as laughable is the assertion in the article by the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the older suit that this new dagger-like district isn’t racially gerrymandered because it’s more “compact,” a quantifiable measurement where less compact districts indicate greater willingness to sort voters, among other things, by protected classes such as race.

But that district mathematically measures horribly in an absolute sense, as the new suit details. Further, the entire map from 1994 declared unconstitutional actually scores better than the current map in many ways, especially in that three major cities – Bossier City, Monroe, and Lake Charles – were left unmolested in a single district each.

All its platitudes about voting rights aside, the real goal all along in Louisiana’s congressional reapportionment for the left has been to pick up a seat for Democrats. But the map produced is so defective that not only do leftists fear it won’t stand ad infinitum, but, worse, that it won’t even make it to this fall’s elections. The weak spoken defenses of the current map speak volumes about the left’s insecurities on this and signals it will have to pull out all the legal stops just to delay the inevitable long enough to have even one election cycle where it gains a partisan advantage.

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