Alternative congressional maps for Florida must be filed in federal court Monday

FLORDIA REDISTRICTING (3)
A trial has been set for May 12 and 13.

A judge in a federal court case says any alternative congressional maps plaintiffs want considered must come in by Monday. That’s a day before a Special Session begins where the Florida Legislature expects to pass a new map.

Meanwhile, a trial has been set for May 12 and 13 to determine if any map produced through the normal legislative process is legally acceptable, assuming one even emerges. Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a plan approved by the Legislature during the regular Session.

Florida remains one of just three states where political boundaries are not yet approved for the 2022 midterms.

U.S. Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan, in an order denying a request from Secretary of State Laurel Lee to pause the case, laid out a timeline for the federal proceedings. The first major deadline comes Monday, when plaintiffs and any intervenors in the lawsuit against the state must offer alternatives to the official state plan. Along with proposed maps, any supporting expert reports, affidavits, declarations and other submitted evidence supporting the case must also be turned in.

Notably, that’s a day before a Special Session begins to pass a new official map. Leaders of the Florida Senate and House on Monday announced they intend to defer to DeSantis on cartography. Counsel for DeSantis will present and make the case for a new map. The Special Session is scheduled to end on Friday at noon at the latest.

Lee’s office must submit the official map to federal court no later than April 26.

The federal case was brought forward by Common Cause Florida and Fair Districts Now.

Common Cause lawyers made clear during status hearings that plaintiffs will likely offer a map approved by the Florida Senate (S 8060) for consideration. That map won bipartisan approval in the upper chamber through a 31-4 vote. But the map was never considered by the House.

The lower chamber approved its own map (H 8019) independently. After the Governor made clear he would veto that, the Senate still took up the map and passed it without going to conference.

Besides submissions from plaintiffs, the courts expect a submission from the Democracy Docket, a group headed by national redistricting attorney Marc Elias. He represented parties in a state case that was voluntarily dismissed on Monday, and filed as intervenors in the federal case.

Elections officials in the state asked for maps to be finalized as soon as possible. The Polk County Supervisor of Elections, in a federal court filing earlier this month, said she would like maps set by April 29.

She needs them ready by May 13 at the latest in order to prepare for the August Primary Election. That’s the day Judge Jordan anticipates a trial will end.

Depositions with most experts must be taken May 3 and 4, according to Jordan’s order. An eight-hour deposition for an expert provided on behalf of the state will take place May 5.

DeSantis’ veto of the Legislature’s map came despite the House trying to address concerns from DeSantis about whether a North Florida district was unconstitutionally gerrymandered. The House reshaped Florida’s 5th Congressional District as a Duval County-only seat, but included a backup map (H 8015) in its redistricting bill that preserved a Tallahassee-to-Jacksonville configuration.

It’s unclear whether either House version will be submitted for consideration by the courts.

It’s also unknown what DeSantis’ Office will offer for the Legislature to consider during the Legislative Session. Counsel for DeSantis submitted two maps (P 0079 and P 0094) during the regular Session, neither of which was taken up by the Legislature.

The latest DeSantis map had 20 districts won by Republican Donald Trump in the last presidential election and eight won by Democrat Joe Biden. The map he vetoed has 18 Trump districts and 10 Biden ones. The Senate map had 16 Trump districts and 12 Biden jurisdictions. Trump won the state in 2020 by three percentage points.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


4 comments

  • PeterH

    April 12, 2022 at 12:45 pm

    Perhaps all congressional district maps will be rejected and the legislative process will proceed after the midterms. Repeated delays are not the answer…..we’re five months away from ballot printing.

    • Tom

      April 12, 2022 at 10:57 pm

      More like 6 months plus left.
      This judge will get overturned with his partisan with his decisions.
      So let’s get this straight, the legislature had not passed concurrent maps, nothing signed into law and the partisan judge says file maps the day before the special session of Congress. Total usurp of legislative, executive prerogative .

      • PeterH

        April 12, 2022 at 11:11 pm

        More fake news from Tom!

        The Republican legislators offered bipartisan district maps that were rejected by the Governor who should have had no input into the decisions.

        The Republican legislators have thrown up their hands and told the Governor to submit plans that he is happy with. The suggested process now flows against the Florida Constitution and will end up in court.

        Time is of the essence and the court may postpone ANY LEGISLATIVE MAP ….. until after the midterms.

        DeSantis can’t even get his own Republicans to dance to his music.

  • It's Complicated

    April 13, 2022 at 1:54 pm

    IMHO, this is political kabuki theater at its finest. A series of well-choreographed acts intended to run the clock out and leave the Federal Court without time to intervene. Why else would the Governor declare the now-vetoed maps “DOA on my desk” at a presser with the Speaker and President standing behind him smiling – BEFORE those maps were adopted by the Legislature? It is actually an ingenious plan.

Comments are closed.


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