Civil rights advocates have argued Florida’s redistricting map is a partisan mess, and now they’re arguing the Midterm Election results prove it.
The plaintiff groups suing Florida in circuit court over the redistricting process say the proof of unfairness is in the ballot box. A joint statement from Equal Ground, Florida Rising, League of Women Voters Florida, and Black Voters Matter makes that sentiment clear.
“Tuesday’s midterm congressional elections were held under a congressional map that was already found to be blatantly unconstitutional by a state court judge, under Florida’s Fair District Amendments,” the statement reads.
“As control of the United States House hangs in the balance, we are once again reminded of the importance of free and fair elections. Our coalition rejects gerrymandering that disenfranchises and discriminates against voters on the basis of race or their party and will continue to advocate for congressional maps that adhere to the Florida Constitution and do not favor one political party over the other, as the DeSantis map used this election cycle does.”
Florida Republicans enjoyed far greater success than the party as a whole in the Midterms. While the GOP will likely gain a House majority in Congress, it will not be large, according to all projections. But in Florida, Republicans picked up four House seats.
Of note, the groups have made the deconstruction of a North Florida minority-performing district a central part of legal challenges. Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a map produced by the Legislature which kept intact a district represented by U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat.
Lawson’s district spanned a number of Black communities from Tallahassee to Jacksonville, and Black voters controlled the Democratic Primary in the blue district. But all portions of the district in DeSantis’ map ended up in majority-White, Republican-leaning seats.
Lawson ended up seeking re-election in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, but he lost on Nov. 8 to Republican U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn.
Notably, the Florida Supreme Court threw out a map produced by the Legislature during the redistricting process a decade ago in 2012. A majority of justices ruled in 2015 that map violated the Fair Districts Amendment to Florida’s Constitution that forbids lawmakers from redistricting to benefit a political party or from diminishing the ability of minority communities to elect a candidate of their choice.
That precedent should matter in the current case working its way through state courts.
“With all five Supreme Court Justices who were on the ballot retained, we move forward with a mandate to ensure that if the pending redistricting litigation goes before Florida’s highest court, they will respect precedent that upheld and enforced the Fair District Amendments that voters enshrined in our State Constitution,” the joint statement from plaintiff groups states.
Federal courts this week advanced a separate lawsuit challenging the maps for violating federal law.