Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments against Ron DeSantis’ congressional map

Will a decision come down before the federal qualifying date?

The Florida Supreme Court will hear minority advocates’ case against a congressional map designed and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Justices called on plaintiffs in the case to file their initial briefs by Feb. 28, providing more than a month to submit arguments. A date hasn’t been set yet for oral arguments, raising questions as to how quickly the case can be resolved.

The state’s high court accepted jurisdiction on the redistricting case. Justices took on the case more than a month after Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal upheld the congressional map and struck down a lower court ruling finding the political lines denied minority communities the right to elect Representatives of their choice.

An order lays out a deliberative process for the case. Once plaintiffs file their arguments with the high court, the state will have 30 days to respond. From there, plaintiffs can offer a counterargument to the state’s case within 30 days, and the high court also allows for a cross-reply brief to be filed.

Justice Charles Canady, husband to state Rep. Jennifer Canady, has continued to recuse himself from the case.

How fast the case moves could impact whether any ruling changes Florida’s political landscape before congressional elections are held in 2024. All candidates for federal office in Florida must qualify by noon on April 26.

The redistricting case always appeared bound for the Florida Supreme Court. Plaintiffs, led by the Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute, filed a challenge in state court immediately after DeSantis signed the map. Minority advocates argued the DeSantis map wrongly dismantled a North Florida congressional district previously represented by U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, a Tallahassee Democrat.

The Legislature initially planned to maintain the configuration of that district, but DeSantis called lawmakers’ plan an “unconstitutional gerrymander.” He vetoed maps produced by the Legislature and called lawmakers back into Special Session to pass a map designed by Alex Kelly, then his Deputy Chief of Staff.

Leon Circuit Court Judge Lee Marsh in September ruled in favor of plaintiffs suing the state and said the cartography diminished Black voters’ ability to elect a Representative of their choice, a direct violation of the Fair Districts Amendment approved by voters in 2010. He also rejected an argument from DeSantis that drawing a district that protects the influence of Black voters violates the “equal protection clause” of the U.S. Constitution.

“This case is about whether the Legislature, in enacting its most recent congressional redistricting plan, violated the Florida Constitution by diminishing the ability of Black voters in North Florida to elect representatives of their choice. It is also about whether that provision of the Florida Constitution violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Marsh wrote. “In short, the answers are yes and no, respectively.”

But the appellate court agreed with DeSantis, and said a map approved by a prior configuration of the Florida Supreme Court in 2015 ran afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause.

“The plaintiffs did not submit any evidence regarding the existence of naturally occurring (rather than court-manufactured) Black communities within the former CD-5,” read a majority ruling by Judges Brad Thomas and Adam Tanenbaum.

“Nothing in the record describes who the Black voters are as members of a meaningful community — nothing about a shared history or shared socio-economic experience among the Black voters in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and other areas throughout the expanse of former CD-5.”

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].


  • Jojo

    January 24, 2024 at 4:21 pm

    I’ll gladly eat crow if DeSantes’ hand picked Court rules against him

  • Pam

    January 25, 2024 at 11:06 am

    I like the new districts as they are more of a commonsense approach. My home in NE Leon county had little in common with rural areas of north Florida extending to Duval county. Now I am included in Leon County and the areas of the Big Bend.

    • Killa Kracka

      January 26, 2024 at 6:47 am

      I’m sure you do like the new districts. Peckerwoods will always make sure the playing field is never level. That will be the downfall of this nation. White people spend do much time trying to screw over, or put black people at a disadvantage until all those who mean this country harm simple come right in under the radar.
      Now the country is flooded with people who don’t give a damn about American, or Americans. But you still keep at it……. Hating black people who have never been a threat to American. Blacks should team up with Arabs and show America something. America treats blacks like terrorists, when blacks are the victims of terrorism by a racist majority….. For no reason. It’s shit starts exploding on a regular basis, then there would be some act-right coming from white America. They do everything possible to separate black people from their finances. Cheat in every way possible. Like fixing districts. But whenever these migrants, and Ukrainian, and fake Jews need, they get. Send 100’s of billions of dollars over seas, but can’t do right by the black people right here. Your a clueless white bytch.

  • Dont Say FLA

    January 25, 2024 at 12:49 pm

    Did they already finish pushing Rhonda’s poop map through?

    They gotta keep their priorities in order.

  • RED State Patriot

    January 28, 2024 at 10:00 am

    Florida’s Supreme Court is made up of ALL conservative jurors
    Nothing else to say. Nice article though.

  • It's Complicated

    January 30, 2024 at 2:36 pm

    There is no Federal law prohibiting Gerrymandering unless its purpose is to exclude minority voters. The USDOJ review of Florida maps have ALWAYS been OK with (sometimes torturous) Gerrymandering for the purpose of creating minority majority districts. That is exactly how Republicans gained the majority from a minority position in the 1992 Redistricting. The courts overturned Corrine Brown’s district that stretched from Jacksonville to Orlando pulling Black voters out of numerous counties, and in multiple locations was contiguous to the rest of the district only by the curb-to-curb width of a road. Lawson’s district was considerably better.

    The issue now if front of the Florida Supremes relates to the FAIR Districts Amendment to the Florida Constitution (which was a Democrat initiative, BTW), which calls for, among other things, compact districts and prohibits Gerrymandering to protect incumbents. The district that former Congressman Al Lawson held, stretched 200 miles from the St. Johns River to the Central Time Zone, arguably, did not pass that test.

Comments are closed.


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