A Florida congressional redistricting plan advocated by Gov. Ron DeSantis was thrown out by a state judge who said it was unfair to black voters.
Leon County District Judge J. Lee Marsh, in a ruling Saturday, found that the map distorts the voting rights of black residents in North Florida, which he said violates the state constitution’s Fair Districts Amendment.
Under the amendments, the Sunshine State legislature is prohibited from redesignating counties that “diminish” minority voting rights.
Florida officials had until Monday to appeal. The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment Sunday.
DeSantis I fought hard for the cardwhich formed about four more districts in favor of the Republicans as part of the decennial post-census redistribution process compared to the previous agreement.
In theory, the Republican governor and 2024 presidential nominee could take the map fight to the Florida Supreme Court, where he appointed five out of seven justices.
In May 2022, he even went so far as to veto a card sent to him by the Republican legislature that was estimated to give Republicans an 18-to-10 lead in the battle for the state’s 28 congressional seats Florida policy.
It was about District 5, which had a large number of black voters. His office argued that keeping District 5 in a form similar to the old map violated the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment and constituted “unconstitutional racial discrimination.”
Marsh, who was appointed by DeSantis’ predecessor, the current Senator. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) dismissed that argument in his ruling.
“The Secretary cannot refer to any case finding that the non-mitigation provisions of the Fair Districts Amendment or the comparable language in Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act violate the equality provision of the 14th Amendment,” he wrote.
During last year’s special legislation in the Florida state legislature, Republicans sent DeSantis a new card that was more to his liking appreciated by some to give the GOP a 20-8 lead.
Following the 2022 midterm election cycle, Florida’s congressional delegation now consists of 20 Republicans and eight Democrats, meaning the GOP holds 71% of the state’s congressional seats. For comparison, former President Donald Trump got 51% in the 2020 Florida election.
Under the previous map, the state’s delegation consisted of 16 to 11 Republicans versus Democrats.
The census gave Florida a new seat.
Nationally, pundits generally viewed Republicans as the easy winners in the battle for the 2022 redistribution of constituencies, a sort of prelude to the midterm elections.
But as the dust settled, Democrats gathered momentum in their legal efforts to reclaim some of those victories.
Back in June, the US Supreme Court rejected a GOP-backed card in Alabama over concerns over voting rights laws.
The Supreme Court also overturned the hold of a case in Louisiana and ordered the drawing of a second mostly black congressional district.
Both cases are expected to spark a fierce Republican battle.
In New York, Democrats were in court trying to get another chance to draw the state’s congressional map after the courts intervened and drafted a map that paved the way for Republicans to make a three-seat swap.
In addition, district redistribution disputes remain pending in Ohio and North Carolina. The latter comes as Republicans have achieved a favorable composition on the state Supreme Court.
In all of this outstanding constituency reshuffle, both parties have vowed to fight with all their might to secure the distributional advantages ahead of the 2024 election.
In the House of Representatives, Republicans have a paltry five-seat majority, 222 to 212.