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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