Florida Supreme Court keeps Congressional cards approved by DeSantis, pitting incumbents against each other

The Florida Supreme Court refused to interfere with a controversial redistricting fight in early June, leaving a congressman endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis map in place for the 2022 midterm elections.

The only paragraph decision was decided on a 4-1 vote with Judge Jorge Labarga dissenting. Two justices were absent from the decision: Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justice Alan Lawson. The couple declined to comment on the redistricting issue; however, it is unknown why they did so.

“Here, the petitioners ask this Court to intervene in the pending review by the First District Court of Appeals of an appeal from an order imposing a temporary injunction. At this time, this Court has no jurisdiction in the matter,” Judges Ricky Polston, Carlos Muñiz, John Couriel and Jamie Grosshans wrote in the opinion.

The dispute revolves around the 5th congressional district, which is currently represented by Rep. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee. The current map shows District 5 running through the top of Florida, which includes all of Baker, Gadsden, Hamilton, and Madison counties, as well as parts of Columbia, Duval, Jefferson, and Leon counties.

The district has been largely a Democratic stronghold in recent years, and its main constituency is made up of black Americans. The district’s shape was approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 2015 for adhering to the state constitution’s Fair District Amendments that prohibit the drawing of congressional districts in a way that diminishes the voting rights of voters from racial and linguistic minorities.

“At stake here is the tenure of 62.9% of Florida voters who voted in 2010 for one of what are commonly referred to as the Fair District Amendments to the Florida Constitution,” the judge wrote. Labarga in his dissent. “Given this Court’s history of reviewing congressional redistricting cases, I cannot foresee that we will not have jurisdiction to review the district court’s decision on the merits.”

During the April Special Legislative Session, DeSantis proposed a new redistricting map after vetoing previous drafts in the Legislative Assembly. Based on past voting patterns, the map is expected to increase the number of Republican-leaning districts in the state’s congressional delegation from 16 to 20.

“We’re not going to have a 200-mile gerrymander dividing people up based on the color of their skin,” noticed DeSantis at a press conference in Miami.

DeSantis’ redistricting move is largely unprecedented, as governors typically don’t release their own congressional maps for approval.

A lawsuit has been filed against DeSantis’ new map by voting rights activists who have argued that newly created districts in North Florida are violating the Fair Trade Districts Amendments. A ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge Layne Smith sided with the plaintiffs and issued a temporary injunction to block DeSantis’ plan and use a different card instead.

However, the 1st District Court of Appeals stayed the injunction, arguing that Smith had exceeded its authority. The case was appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court of Florida has abrogated its responsibility to ensure that Florida does not revert to its old ways of creating districts for the purpose of disenfranchising minority voters,” the Chief Justice said. minority in the Senate, Lauren Book, D-Plantation. Political review. “Now the case is heading to the federal courts where we should hope justice will prevail.”

The Florida Supreme Court’s decision to stay out of the dispute follows an intense cycle of midterm elections in 2022. Current forecast show Republicans retaking the U.S. House of Representatives amid President Joe Biden’s recent low approval ratings.

Despite changes to his district, Rep. Al Lawson is a candidate re-election in District 2. He will face another starter, Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Panama City, in what will likely be a competitive race.

Check out other recent articles from the Florida Political Review here.

Featured Image: The exterior facade of the Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee, Florida in 2011. Unedited photo by Bruin79 used under Creative Commons license. (https://bit.ly/3igKkad)

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