Florida lawmakers score legal victory in redistricting dispute

by | Jun 5, 2023



  • State lawmakers in Florida achieved a significant legal win on Monday after a federal judge allowed them to challenge a specific aspect of the redistricting plan by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
  • The lawsuit alleges that the redistricting plan violates the “Fair Districts” constitutional amendment by reducing the voting power of Black residents in North Florida.
  • The state argued that adhering to the amendment would infringe on the Equal Protection Clause, claiming a clash of constitutional principles.

Lawmakers in Florida achieved a significant legal win on Monday in the ongoing redistricting dispute after a federal judge granted them the ability to challenge a specific aspect of a constitutional amendment governing the drawing of electoral maps.

The lawsuit, brought forth by a coalition of organizations and individual plaintiffs, alleges that Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ redistricting plan violates the “Fair Districts” constitutional amendment of 2010 by unfairly reducing the voting power of Black residents in North Florida.

The redistricting plan introduced by DeSantis resulted in the elimination of Congressional District 5, held by former Representative Al Lawson, which had previously encompassed North Florida stretching from Tallahassee to Duval County.

To counter the challenge, the state argued that adhering to the non-diminishment standard of the Fair Districts amendment for Congressional District 5 would infringe upon the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Their contention is predicated upon utilizing race as a primary factor in drawing the district contradicts the principles enshrined in the Equal Protection Clause.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys have sought to prevent the state from employing this argument as a defense, contending that the “public official standing doctrine” prohibits the Legislature and Secretary of State Cord Byrd from challenging the constitutionality of a legal duty they are obliged to fulfill. The duty in question revolves around compliance with the 2010 Fair Districts amendment.

However, attorneys representing the House, Senate, and Byrd have contested the plaintiffs’ assertions, arguing that the process of drawing the map gave rise to a conflict between the Fair Districts amendment and the U.S. Constitution, thereby presenting a clash of constitutional principles.

Monday’s ruling is the latest of several challenges and injunctions associated with the case. Last year, in a 59-page emergency petition, plaintiffs requested the Florida Supreme Court to place a stay on the 1st District Court of Appeal’s order that initially re-validated DeSantis’ map.

“A stay of the First District’s decision is necessary to preserve this (Supreme) Court’s ability to adjudicate the parties’ appeals in time for the 2022 elections,” the filing said.

DeSantis also sought legal advice from the Florida Supreme Court in January of last year, inquiring as to whether his proposed redistricting plan would be valid in accordance with the Fair Districts standard.

In his letter to the Supreme Court, DeSantis inquired about the “non-diminishment standard” in the Florida Constitution, which prevents districts from being drawn that will diminish the ability of minority voters to elect candidates of their choice.

“Specifically, I ask whether the Florida Constitution’s non-diminishment standard requires that congressional districts be drawn to connect minority populations from distant and distinct geographic areas if doing so would provide the assembled minority group sufficient voting strength — although not a majority of the proposed district — to elect a candidate of its choice,” DeSantis wrote.

Following the Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene in the case, Florida state judge Layne Smith granted a preliminary injunction on the proposed congressional map on May 11, 2022, preventing the proposed map from being used in the upcoming election cycle before being overturned.

10 Comments

  1. CaptTurbo

    In other words, Florida citizens lose to thee woke, communist infestation.

    • Chris B.

      You have successfully drank the koolaid, sadly. I left the republican party bc it is no longer republican; it’s been infested with commie fascism. I am now independent bc I don’t trust dems either. Both sides are corrupted and owned by their wicked handlers that want to install pawns to do their bidding, against the best interests of Americans. I am glad that some people still have some ethics and believe in free and fair elections, and not a bunch of commie RINOs like desantis and his demons.

  2. Deborah Coffey

    Sure. First there were slaves forbidden the vote, then there was Jim Crow, and now there’s DeSantis’ Jim Crow II. It’s not just him. Republicans have deliberately been suppressing the vote for years for minorities because they know they can’t win elections unless they do. Yep, it’s called cheating. Gerrymandering needs to be outlawed. Period.

    • Enrique Torres

      Don’t forget the slaves were forbidden to vote by the Democrat party all the way up through the civil rights era of the 1960s.
      ” Congress had passed the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the first major civil rights legislation to be enacted in decades, which sought to protect the voting rights of black Americans. The bill passed the House in a 286-126 vote. Only 51 percent of Democrats voted in favor of the bill, or 119 of their 235 members, compared to 84 percent of Republicans, or 167 of their 199 members.

      “The 1964 civil right act passed the Senate with a 73-27 vote. About 82 percent of Republicans in the Senate voted for the bill, as did 69 percent of Democrats. The amended Senate bill was then sent back to the House where it passed with 76 percent support from Republicans and 60 percent support from Democrats.”

      Republicans do not want to win by cheating , we want everyone to vote but only to have legal voters vote.

      Gerrymandering is an old concept dating back a couple of centuries. It has been used by all parties, Federalists, Whigs, Jeffersonian Republicans (pre 1854 Republican Party), Democrats and Lincoln Republicans.

      In the 1990s gerrymandering became a way for politicians to pick their voters and is used by Democrats as well.

      One item conveniently left out by the liberally biased media but in this article was Desantis asking the Fla. Supreme court this, “Specifically, I ask whether the Florida Constitution’s non-diminishment standard requires that congressional districts be drawn to connect minority populations from distant and distinct geographic areas if doing so would provide the assembled minority group sufficient voting strength — although not a majority of the proposed district — to elect a candidate of its choice,” DeSantis wrote.”
      The Fla Supreme court refused to intervene in the case.

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