Thursday, December 14, 2023

ANNALS OF DeSANTISTAN: Florida high court looks poised to step into congressional redistricting clash. (Tallahassee Democrat/USA Today Network)

Wayne Hogan and other public interest advocates helped pass the Fair Districts Amendments in 2010 (Amendments 5&6).  Tallahassee Republicans don't want fair districts -- they want one-party rule.  Based on the results in developer-directed St. Johns County Commission, one-party rule is wrong. We don't need dictatorial one-party rule anywhere.

From USA Today Network/GANNETT/Tallahassee Democrat: 

Florida high court looks poised to step into congressional redistricting clash

The new boundaries left no Black member of Congress elected from North Florida for the first time in 30 years. 

John Kennedy
Congressional map drew protest during 2022 legislative session. Map could be back before lawmakers in 2024.

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court looks poised to step into the clash between voters’ groups and Gov. Ron DeSantis over the state’s congressional map, which eliminated a seat long held by Black Democrats in north Florida.

Justices agreed Thursday to a request by Black Lives Matter and other organizations that briefs be filed by Dec. 29 asking the court to rule on whether the map is constitutional.  

The 1st District Court of Appeal earlier this month sided with DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Legislature, reversing a lower court ruling that threw out the map for diminishing the ability of Black voters to elect a candidate of their choice.

Now, the state Supreme Court looms as a key battleground in the effort by the voters’ groups to stop the map from being used in next year’s elections. A lawsuit against Florida’s congressional plan also is still pending in federal court. 

North Florida district at heart of case

At the heart of the case is a Tallahassee-to-Jacksonville district held 2017-23 by Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson. It had a 46% Black voting age population. 

DeSantis, though, eliminated the district after vowing to create what he called “race-neutral” boundaries, getting the GOP-dominated Legislature to go along with him after vetoing plans approved by lawmakers which had preserved the wide-ranging north Florida district. 

The new boundaries left no Black member of Congress elected from North Florida for the first time in 30 years. 

Black Lives Matter, the Florida League of Women Voters and other plaintiffs argued the new boundaries scattered hundreds of thousands of Black voters across four North Florida districts where they appear to have little political impact.  

DeSantis cites GOP pickup in presidential bid

All four seats were won by Republicans, leaving 20 of Florida’s 28 congressional seats held by the GOP. The state’s four-seat Republican pickup last year helped the party win control of the U.S. House, a point DeSantis has taken credit for during his lagging campaign for the GOP presidential nomination. 

The Tallahassee-to-Jacksonville district was created in 2015 by the Florida Supreme Court, which then had taken over congressional redistricting after ruling the Legislature had violated another Fair Districts provision barring partisan gerrymandering. 

But the Supreme Court now is dramatically different, with five of its seven members appointed by DeSantis. 

1st DCA sides with DeSantis on map:Appeals court sides with DeSantis congressional map erasing seat held by Black Democrat

A look-back at the fight:Special session: Florida lawmakers heeding Gov. DeSantis' demand for new congressional map, enraging opponents

Plaintiffs, though, in their filings asking for the review, argued that it was apparent that the 1st DCA “decided it need not follow this Court’s decisions.” 

They said the appellate court “brazenly set about establishing its own standard, one sharply at odds with” the 2015 Supreme Court. 

Session timing could be critical

The Florida Legislature, which begins its 2024 session on Jan. 9, would be expected to redraw the map if justices rule against the governor. The session is scheduled to end March 9, just six weeks before candidate qualifying for the state’s 28 congressional seats is set to begin. 

The appeals court ignored the urging of lawyers for both sides in September that the redistricting fight go directly to the Supreme Court. Instead, appellate judges stepped in and heard Halloween Day arguments where several questioned the reasoning behind the Tallahassee-to-Jacksonville district. 

In their 8-2 ruling earlier this month reinstating the DeSantis map, appellate judges ruled the east-west district had wrongly connected “two far-flung segments of a racial group with disparate interests.” 

“Treating citizens as individuals without regard for race is the only way to ensure full and equal participation in the political process,” the appeals court wrote. 

John Kennedy is a reporter in the USA TODAY Network’s Florida Capital Bureau. He can be reached at, or on Twitter at @JKennedyReport

1 comment:

Edzilla said...

Scared by the woke, Republicans are trying to establish permanent authoritarian rule in Florida. Woke is just the bare minimum of how people should treat each other in a civilized society.. but conservative Republicans thrive on inegalitarianism, bigotry, lies, and greed. They will cheat to uphold their wicked ways.