Lawsuit challenges Louisiana Supreme Court districts

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The maps used to elect Louisiana’s seven state Supreme Court justices are discriminatory against African American voters, according to a civil rights group’s lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge seeks a declaration that the districts violate the federal Voting Rights Act, the 1965 law designed to ensure minorities were able to exercise the right to vote. It also seeks an order that the current districts not be used again and that the boundaries be redrawn.

The Washington, D.C.-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP and two black voters. It says the state’s voting age population is about 30% black, while only one of the seven justices is black — about 14 percent.

The Louisiana Supreme Court said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation. A statement from the Secretary of State’s office, which oversees elections, said the office had not yet been served with the lawsuit “but will thoroughly and vigorously review any litigation at the appropriate time.”

U.S. District Judge John deGravelles will preside over the case. A magistrate will hold a scheduling conference in September.

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