James F. Blumstein Files Amicus Brief in Robinson v. Ardoin

Aug 31, 2023

James F. Blumstein, University Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law and Health Law and Policy, has filed an amicus brief in support of the appellants in Robinson v. Ardoin, a Louisiana case challenging a Congressional redistricting plan on the grounds that the plan diluted the strength of Black voters in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The case is brought by a coalition of civil rights organizations and civil rights groups.

Blumstein’s brief supports vacating the District Court decision, which required the Louisiana state legislature to draw a new congressional map that includes a second black-majority district and remanding the case to the District Court for “additional factfinding and analysis.”

Blumstein filed his brief in Robinson v. Ardoin after the Supreme Court ruled, in Allen v. Milligan on June 8, that a map drawn by Alabama’s Republican-controlled state legislature likely violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which bars racial discrimination in voting.

In the wake of that decision, the Supreme Court returned Robinson v. Ardoin, the Louisiana case, to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to hear Louisiana’s appeal in the ordinary course and in advance of the 2024 congressional elections in Louisiana.

In his brief, Blumstein argues that the District Court’s decision should be vacated and remanded for factfinding and analysis in accordance with the analytical structure and doctrinal requirements of Chisom v. Roemer, a 1991 Supreme Court case in which the Court distinguished between claims involving the opportunity to participate in the political process and claims involving the opportunity to elect representatives of minority voters’ choice.

Blumstein contends that “The courts in the Alabama and Louisiana litigation had ignored or disregarded the significance of Chisom.”

In his brief, he urges the courts to include consideration of Chisom in their deliberations regarding Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

“The claim of vote dilution is actionable under Section 2, but only upon a showing that the political process is not equally open to minority voters and lack of openness caused an inability of minority voters to elect candidates of their choice. Under Chisom, a claim of vote dilution under this section is not ‘freestanding,’ but is linked to a defect in access to the political process. Only when minority voters face discrimination in their access to the political process can they establish a vote-dilution claim. That is the analysis under Chisom, and the courts have not taken the import of Chisom into account in the Louisiana case,” Blumstein said. “Accordingly, the Court of Appeals should return the case to the District Court for factfinding and analysis under Chisom.”

Read James F. Blumstein’s Amicus Curiae Brief in Robinson v. Ardoin filed with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 15, 2023.

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