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Deal that ensured Black representation on Louisiana’s highest court upheld by federal appeals panel

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A 1992 federal court agreement that led to a Black justice being elected to Louisiana’s once all-white Supreme Court will remain in effect under a ruling Wednesday from a divided federal appeals court panel.

The 2-1 ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a lower court ruling. It’s a defeat for state Attorney General Jeff Landry, now Louisiana’s governor-elect.

Landry and state Solicitor General Elizabeth Murrill, a fellow Republican who is in a runoff election campaign to succeed him as attorney general, had argued that the 1992 agreement is no longer needed and should be dissolved.

Attorneys for the original plaintiffs in the voting rights case and the U.S. Justice Department said the state presented no evidence to show it would not revert to old patterns that denied Black voters representation on the state’s highest court.

U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan last year refused to dissolve the agreement, referred to as a consent judgment or consent decree. Wednesdays ruling from 5th Circuit judges Jacques Wiener, nominated to the court by President George H.W. Bush, and Carl Stewart, nominated by President Bill Clinton, rejected Landry’s move to overturn Morgan’s decision. Judge Kurt Engelhardt, nominated by President Donald Trump, dissented.

Kevin Mcgill, The Associated Press