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Johnson v. Ardoin

Nine African American voters in Louisiana filed a lawsuit alleging the state’s 2011 plan violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Last Updated: October 14, 2020
Published: May 31, 2019

Note: The Brennan Center is not a participant in this case.

Case Background

Nine African American voters in Louisiana are challenging the state’s 2011 congressional plan as a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Plaintiffs allege that the legislature packed African-American voters into the Second Congressional District and split African-American voters among three other congressional districts, rather than unifying them to create a second majority-minority district, thereby having the effect of diluting their voting strength and political influence.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the map violates Section 2 of the VRA and enjoin the state from using the current map in any further congressional elections. The plaintiffs are also asking the court to require that the state adopt a new congressional plan that includes a second majority-minority district.

On July 31, 2018, the Secretary of State filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint, and on September 10, filed a separate motion to dismiss the amended complaint. On March 12, 2019, the court denied the first motion to dismiss. On May 31, 2019, the court denied the second motion to dismiss, rejecting, among other arguments, the Secretary of State’s contention that the suit should be dismissed because plaintiffs failed to request a three-judge panel to hear their case. 

On October 7, 2019, the defendant filed a third-party complaint against U.S. Attorney General William Barr and the U.S. Department of Justice asking the court to either dismiss the case or issue a declaration that the Department of Justice erred in its preclearance review of the 2011 plan.

On October 17, 2019, the court granted the defendant’s motion to stay proceedings pending the resolution of the Fifth Circuit’s review in Thomas v. Bryant.

On September 29, 2020, the District Court lifted the stay in light of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Thomas v. Reeves (formerly Thomas v. Bryant), stating that the parties must show cause for why the court should not certify an interlocutory appeal on the three-judge panel issue.

On October 13, 2020, the District Court dismissed the case with prejudice.


District Court