Back in August, a federal judge ruled in a lawsuit brought by the NAACP that the at-large voting system for judges in Louisiana’s Terrebonne Parish southwest of New Orleans makes it difficult for black voters to elect candidates of their choice and thus violates the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which bars discrimination in voting because of race, color or language minority status. But rather than stand aside and let the legislature fix the districts when it convenes next year, since elections are not imminent, the defendants in the lawsuit — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) and Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) — are appealing early to block the remedial process.
And to represent them, Landry’s office has hired an attorney with a Virginia law firm that is currently being sued by a voting rights group in North Carolina for making false and defamatory claims of voter fraud and that was the target of a related complaint of unprofessional conduct filed earlier this year with the N.C. State Bar.
The notice of appeal submitted to the court last month in the Louisiana case was signed by Jason Torchinsky, a partner with Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky (HVJT), a prominent Republican firm that specializes in election law. Torchinsky formerly served as counsel to the assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and as deputy general counsel to the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign. The firm’s managing partner is Jill Vogel, a Virginia state senator and the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of her state.