Federal lawsuit asks courts to throw out Congressional maps of Florida and implement ‘legal’ mapping

Progressive critics of Florida’s redistricting process are suing in federal court – the second lawsuit against Florida’s congressional map before it hit the government. Ron DeSantis desk.

And like the first, he cites the Governor’s veto threat as an additional legal emergency.

“The Governor has repeatedly and inappropriately inserted himself into the redistricting process of Congress, and with each intervention, the maps proposed by the Legislature have deviated more and more from the required constitutional standards,” reads the statement. complaint.

“Although the Legislature has proposed subsequent Congressional maps in response to pressure from Governor DeSantis, the Governor has nonetheless made it clear that he will veto virtually any map that protects minority voting rights and avoids partisan gerrymandering. As a result, it is highly likely that Florida’s political branches will not reach a consensus to enact a legal congressional district plan in time for use in the upcoming 2022 election.”

Common Cause Florida, Fair Districts Now and five Florida citizens filed the complaint in the United States District Court. The case was filed after hours Friday in the Northern District of Florida.

It lists DeSantis, Secretary of State Laura Lee, and several legislators, including the President of the Senate wilton simpsonhouse tenant Chris Sprows. It also lists defendant Sens. Ray Rodrigues and Jennifer Bradley and representatives. Tom leek and Tyler Sirois, who led congressional redistricting efforts in the Senate and House, respectively.

The Florida Legislature approved a controversial two-card congressional redistricting plan earlier this month. This includes a main map crafted in the Florida House (H8019) which significantly reconfigures Florida’s 5th congressional district from a jurisdiction stretching from Tallahassee to Jacksonville to a Duval County-only seat, but keeping it as a minority seat.

This attempts to address complaints raised by DeSantis, whose office submitted two cards eliminating all black seats in North Florida. The office also argued the current CD 5, represented by the Democratic US Representative. Al Lawson, is an unconstitutional gerrymander. As House members debated the final card, DeSantis announced that he would veto.

But the Legislature tipped its hat to fears the courts will find even its own card in violation of the state constitution if it finds that a change in Lawson’s district diminishes voting power for minorities. In this case, the legislator proposed a second card (H8015) if the courts reject the first card.

It should be noted that the Florida Supreme Court did just that after Common Cause and the League of Women Voters sued a Congressional map passed by the Legislature in 2012. This led to the courts replacing the Legislature map with a map produced by the plaintiffs in the case.

As a case filed in state court friday against Lee and the Attorney General Ashley Moody, the lawsuit underscores the need for immediate implementation of a congressional map. Florida got an extra congressional seat after the 2020 census, so the state needs a map with 28 congressional districts instead of the existing 27 seats in effect now.

It should be noted that while some groups have criticized the maps throughout the redistricting process, the lawsuit argues for one approved by the Senate (S8060) “has been substantially in accordance with the law and largely successful in protecting minority voting rights, and does not appear on the face of it to be a partisan gerrymander.”

But the suit argues that after DeSantis submitted a map “that largely ignored the law,” the legislature strayed from the guiding principles used with Senate mapping.

“The maps drawn by the Legislative Assembly after Governor DeSantis inserted himself into the process and submitted his map proposals to Congress appear to be an attempt to assuage the governor’s concerns,” the suit argues. “As a result, they retain the influence of the governor’s proposed maps and disregard for state and federal laws.”

Complaints say courts should reject DeSantis’ mapping for several reasons.

“In addition to eliminating two successful black districts, Governor DeSantis’ map also weakened a Hispanic district, all contributing to Republican dominance,” she said. “The governor’s map appears to have been drawn with the intention of favoring the Republicans.”

He notes that the Senate map had 16 districts where Republicans donald trump won the 2020 presidential election and 12 won by the Democrat Joe Biden; The governor’s first map had 19 Trump districts, and his last had 20.

Either way, DeSantis’ involvement has had a “chilling effect” on the whole process, and he notes that the cards have yet to land on the governor’s desk.

“There is also significant uncertainty as to whether, once Governor DeSantis vetoes the Congressional map proposed by the Legislative Assembly, a special session will be convened to answer the veto,” the lawsuit alleges. “And, legislative supporters of this plan don’t have enough votes to override a veto. As a result, Florida will be left without a congressional precinct plan to remedy its misallocated districts.

A solution offered by the lawsuit: the courts must adopt “approve a new constitutional and legal plan of Congress”.

The suit does not offer a map but calls on the judiciary to “establish a timetable that will allow the Court to adopt and implement a new congressional district plan on a certain date.” He suggests that action should be taken as soon as possible to allow candidates to decide whether they can run and educate the public on their platforms ahead of the August primary election.

Congressional candidates must qualify by June 17.

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