Why five Metro Council members are suing over the new district map 

Five of Baton Rouge’s Metro Council members will hold a news conference Wednesday to announce their filing of a lawsuit against the new district map for the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Council, which they say violates the Voting Rights Act.

The new map, which goes into effect Jan. 1, dilutes Black voting strength in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the U.S. Constitution, according to a news release from their attorney, William Most. 

“The new map does so by “packing” large numbers of Black voters into a few majority-Black council districts,” the release states. “The new map packs more than 68.5% of the parish’s Black registered voters into 42% of the parish’s Metro Council districts. 

“Thus, although white residents have been declining in numbers in Baton Rouge and no longer are the majority group, the new map would increase white control of the Metro Council by creating an additional majority-white council district.”

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are expected to include Baton Rouge Metro Council members Cleve Dunn Jr., Chauna Banks, Darryl Hurst, Lamont Cole, Carolyn Coleman and others.

In a statement on Sunday, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome said she believes the current makeup of the Metropolitan Council does not accurately represent the demographics of the parish. The new district map continues that imbalance, she says. 

“The math doesn’t add up—East Baton Rouge Parish is roughly 50% Black, but the new map only designates five of the twelve Metro Council districts as majority black when there should be six,” she says. “I stand with Metro Council members Cleve Dunn Jr., Chauna Banks, Darryl Hurst, Lamont Cole, and Carolyn Coleman to fight for fair representation and ensure every resident’s voice is heard equally.”