Tabella has a terrific, must-read post up at the Election Law Center:
Word out of New Orleans yesterday was that the Louisiana state house plan has been precleared by the Department of Justice. The article quotes a Lousiana legislative leader as stating this is the first time any initial redistricting plan has ever been precleared by DOJ since the enactment of the Voting Rights Act. If true, this is a testament to the Republican legislative majority and the strategy of going to Federal court to hold DOJ’s feet to the fire.
The Washington Post reported earlier that the civil rights community saw this as the “crucial test of the Voting Rights Act.” Of course, the plan was wholly unacceptable to an assortment of liberal interest groups even though the plan actually increased black representation in the face of decrease in the New Orleans black population due to Hurricane Katrina. The one-sided media storm showed that when many liberal interest groups cry foul, they are actually crying wolf, and their real goal was to overtly pressure DOJ to use the civil rights laws to their partisan advantage.
The fact that Louisiana simultaneously submitted its plan to the U.S. District Court in Washington on a parallel litigation path resulted in more timely approval and less nit-picking by DOJ of minor details of a perfectly acceptable (but not NAACP endorsed) plan. The strategy provided an appropriate degree of pressure on the Voting Section to prevent political interference by liberal interest groups, and even the Obama political leadership itself at the Civil Rights Division.
This common sense strategy to go to Federal court actually streamlined the preclearance review process in both Virginia and Louisiana. By going to court, Louisiana helped prevent the type of undue influence exerted by interest groups that was found in Miller v. Johnson to have resulted in the Civil Rights Division unlawfully pressuring jurisdictions in the maximization of minority seats.
Read the rest here.