On April 26, 2021 a group of registered voters filed a lawsuit against the Louisiana Secretary of State challenging the state's then-current congressional districts as unconstitutional. The plaintiffs alleged due to population shifts over the last decade, the state's then-present districts had become malapportioned in violation of the one person, one vote constitutional requirement and that the Governor and State Legislature would be unable to reach a consensus to enact a new plan in time for the upcoming 2022 elections. The plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment that Louisiana's then-current congressional districts were unconstitutionally malapportioned in violation of Article I, § 2 of the U.S. Constitution and article I, §§ 7 and 9 of the Louisiana Constitution and an injunction barring the defendant from giving any effect to those districts in future elections. They also requested the court implement a new constitutionally compliant congressional redistricting plan if the state's political branches failed to enact a plan by a date set by the court.
Louisiana's Secretary of State filed exceptions with the trial court objecting to the petitioners' suit on the grounds of improper venue, lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and failure to state a cause of action and right of action. The trial court denied these exceptions on November 16, 2021, and again on December 10, 2021, which the Secretary appealed to Louisiana's Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal. On February 2, 2022 the state Court of Appeal issued its opinion affirming the trial court's decision as to the right of action exception, but reversing as to the improper venue exception. The court explained La. R.S. § 13:5104 provides that actions challenging the official conduct of any officer or employee of the State of Louisiana or its agencies must be filed in the East Baton Rouge Parish, and here, the petitioners' suit fell within the scope of this statute because the "operative facts" which would support the petitioners' right to the relief sought would occur in East Baton Rouge where the state capital is located. Since the petitioners' suit was improperly filed in Orleans Parish, the court dismissed their lawsuit without prejudice.
Louisiana District Court, Parish of New Orleans - No. 2021-03538
Louisiana Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit - No. 2021-C-739
- Opinion and Judgment - 2/2/22