Louisiana gained its 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts in 1823 as part of the 18th United States Congress. Since at least the 1870s, the district has borne heavy influence of southern Louisiana's Acadian culture and several of the related parishes.
Although the 3rd Congressional District has been Democratic through much of its history, it is the sole district in Louisiana to have been represented by three parties during the 20th century, in that Whitmell P. Martin represented the district as a "Bull Moose" Progressive from 1915 to 1919, when he switched to the Democrats. Martin remained in office as a Democrat until his death in 1929. The district became more competitive for the Republicans later in the 20th century, when in 1972 it elected Dave Treen as the state's first Republican representative since Reconstruction.
Redistricting in the 1990s pushed the district out of the fast-growing suburbs of Metairie and the city of Kenner, to help keep the seat in the hands of Treen's Democratic successor, Billy Tauzin. Tauzin eventually switched to the Republican Party in 1995, making the 3rd Congressional District also unique in 20th-century Louisiana politics as the sole district to have two representatives who switched parties (Martin, who switched from the "Bull Moose" Progressives to the Democrats in 1918, and Tauzin, who switched from the Democrats to the Republicans in 1995). As a Republican, Tauzin continued to serve until retiring from Congress in 2005. DemocratCharlie Melançon won the seat in 2004 (seated in 2005), was reelected in 2006, and was unopposed in 2008.