DeSantis Map Fight Must Be Decided in the Courts

Governor DeSantis' proposed map submitted to the Florida Legislature. (Florida Legislature)

 Updated A three-judge panel on Monday correctly declined the state’s request to put a hold on a federal lawsuit that seeks to have the court draw new congressional district lines, setting a schedule for a mid-May trial even as legislators prepare for a special session next week on the issue.

A ruling by the panel said that moving the case forward will, in part, ensure there is time if lawmakers fail to approve a congressional map between April 19-22.

DeSantis Map
Governor DeSantis’ proposed map submitted to the Florida Legislature. (Florida Legislature)

Of course, the Legislature is expected to approve the map after leadership shamelessly announced this past Monday that it will abdicate its responsibility and allow Gov. Ron DeSantis to draft a new congressional map to let him have his way, a seeming bid to avoid conflict with the mercurial governor, who would otherwise likely have a temper tantrum.

Historically, the Florida Legislature has taken the lead in redrawing the lines of congressional districts, but that’s gone out the window.

The Miami Herald recently reported that Democratic lawmakers and other groups called the move “undemocratic” and “dangerous.”

“Whatever happened to the separation of powers?” said state Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando. “The fact that the Florida Legislature is just bending over backward to do what the governor wants. I mean, why are we elected?

The groups Common Cause Florida and FairDistricts Now as well as five voters filed the lawsuit March 11 after DeSantis said he would veto a redistricting plan passed by the Legislature, which he did do March 29. The lawsuit argued that an impasse between DeSantis and lawmakers jeopardized the chances of reaching agreement on a map, and that judges should step in to make sure revamped districts are set before this year’s elections.

The lawsuit could become moot once the Legislature rubber stamps the governor’s map next week and a different lawsuit will likely be filed in objection to the new map.

Meanwhile, the case before U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rogers and U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor requires plaintiffs to file proposed maps by April 18, a day before the four-day special session begins. Secretary of State Laurel Lee, the named defendant in the case, has until April 26 to file a map.

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 vetoed map has 18 Trump districts and 10 Biden ones. The Senate map had 16 Trump districts and 12 Biden jurisdictions.

DeSantis is openly trying to create a clear path for himself to win Florida when he runs for president in 2024, while packing congressional seats with Republicans no matter how many Black and brown people he has to roll over. The earlier DeSantis map, sure to make a comeback, eliminates a Black seat in Northern Florida, held by Rep. Al Lawson.

Democrats must use the courts to stop our lawless governor.

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