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NAACP, Vermilion Parish Chapter v. City of Abbeville

After the Abbeville City Council in Louisiana chose to use a district map that denies equal representation to voters, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Vermilion Parish NAACP to block use of the map.

The federal lawsuit describes how the council-approved redistricting map denies equal representation to voters, in violation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which requires legislative districts to provide equal representation and voting power for all citizens, also known as the “One-Person, One-Vote requirement.” Louisiana law also requires municipalities to examine their apportionment plan within one year after the release of the U.S. census to determine whether a new apportionment plan is needed. The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the council to draw a map that complies with federal law. 

The complaint outlines how the Abbeville City Council knowingly enacted a map that dilutes the voting power of District B residents, which includes members of the Vermilion Parish NAACP, the plaintiff, by packing them into one of four council districts. The 2020 U.S. census showed that the Abbeville population decreased by 1,000 people, resulting in an overpopulation in District B – well above the legal limits.

On Dec. 20, 2022, the council defied the 14th Amendment by voting unanimously against reapportioning the district map, insisting that the 2020 census results were invalid and did not produce a “substantial variation” in Abbeville’s population. The council rejected multiple compliant maps presented by the Vermillion Parish NAACP and the SPLC before deciding to leave the district map unchanged. 

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Lafayette Division.