“Their strategy has consistently been to slow-walk this case, only to later announce that the time for entering relief has run out,” they wrote in a court filing last month.
A lawyer for the plaintiffs in the Georgia, Louisiana and Alabama cases, Abha Khanna, said she thought the judges in those cases had made their impatience clear. She said that they had signaled that if there is relief to be had for Black voters in these states under the Voting Rights Act, “it should be in time for the 2024 elections.”
Those defending the maps say that the current jockeying is a diversion from a bigger question: whether the states’ arguments for their maps are in fact persuasive. The arguments, like the cases themselves, are complex, but many of them boil down to a single assertion, that judges who have ordered new maps are using a too-broad interpretation of what makes maps illegal under the Voting Rights Act.
In both Alabama and Louisiana, for example, the states’ lawyers argue that judges are ordering the states to create precisely the sorts of racial gerrymanders that the Voting Rights Act forbids — except that in these cases, the gerrymanders favor African Americans.
In Louisiana, they argue, the judge is creating an additional district that could elect a Black representative by knitting together African American communities that are separated by a hundred miles or more. In Alabama, lawyers contend that federal judges are commanding above all else that the state create two congressional districts that give Black voters a voice — something they say defies the law’s decree that race cannot be the dominant factor in redrawing political maps.