Letter: Redistricting yields fairness

I am writing to inform you on behalf of our multiracial community of my position regarding redistricting Election Sections 1, 2, and 3 of the 19th Judicial District Court.

As you may know, public elections for the 19th Judicial District Court are scheduled for Nov. 4. Subdistricts (election sections) are proscribed by state law for election to some of the district courts in Louisiana.

Last year, clear and convincing evidence of racial vote dilution occurred regarding the 2012 elections to the Louisiana Supreme Court, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal and Baton Rouge City Court. Consequently, leaders and members of our parish’s electorate must firmly confront and redress an unfair (structurally imposed by legislative act) election system.

It appears that some members of our community are not in support of redistricting our court because of feelings of fear of an increase in minority representation, or are acting out of self-preservation, or have taken an unfavorable position because to do so may be perceived by some of their supporters as politically correct.

I ask those citizens within our parish who are in opposition to redistricting to accept reality — the current structural election mechanism required or acquiesced in by the state of Louisiana post the judgment in Clark v. Roemer, 500 U.S. 646 (1991) is no longer an adequate purge of its intended target — racial vote discrimination to hold fair elections for our court.

Any further maintenance of the current territorial limits for Election Sections 1, 2 and 3 for elections to our court undermines the progress of African Americans who have been subject to significant voting-related discrimination. The current system also may be unfair in the opportunity to elect other qualified minority lawyers desirous of running for judge.

Transformational population and demographic changes occurred from 1980 through 2014 for East Baton Rouge Parish. Maintenance of the existing sub-district lines regularly prevents an equal opportunity to participate in the electoral process for juridical office because of racial vote dilution.

Remaining indifferent in the face of regular race polarized voting in juridical elections occurring to the detriment of the historically discriminated minority community must not remain tolerable, mutely discussed, nor lightly dismissed.

Donald R. Johnson

judge, 19th Judicial District

Baton Rouge