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Voting rights and civil rights advocates filed suit Friday challenging Florida’s congressional redistricting plan just before it became law.
League of Women Voters of Florida President Cecile Scoon said the intention is to stand up to “a rogue governor and a complicit state Legislature” who want to silence Black voters.
The redistricting law that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed Friday violates an anti-gerrymandering amendment to the Florida Constitution, according to the lawsuit filed in the Second Judicial Circuit for Leon County, Fla.
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The “Fair Districts” amendment was approved by 63% of Florida voters in 2010. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said last month he wants the state’s courts to rule on the language, which he said conflicts with the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.
The map intentionally favors Republicans in 20 of the newly drawn 28 congressional districts, and cut the number of minority access districts in half, down to two, according to the lawsuit. Florida is gaining a seat because of population growth; its current congressional delegation has 16 Republicans and 11 Democrats.
DeSantis’ office submitted the U.S. House configuration after the governor vetoed a version crafted by lawmakers. Republican legislative leaders then decided not to redraw the lines and instead took up and passed the map they got from the governor’s office.
The vetoed map would have preserved a minority access district created by a state court in 2015 to remedy partisan gerrymandering. That northern Florida district, currently held by Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat, gets erased under the lines drawn by the governor’s office.
DeSantis said Lawson’s district should be drawn in “a race-neutral manner.”
The governor’s map also dismantles the Orlando-area district now held by Rep. Val Demings, also a Black Democrat.
The advocacy groups are represented by attorneys from Elias Law Group LLC; King, Blackwell, Zehnder & Wermuth, P.A.; and Perkins Coie LLP.
The case is Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute Inc. v. Lee, Fla. Cir. Ct.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Kay in Miami at firstname.lastname@example.org