Federal Court Rejects Congressional Redistricting Challenge as State Lawsuit awaits Florida Supreme Court

The Joseph Woodrow Hatchett U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building in Tallahassee. [Andrew Pantazi/The Tributary]

A three-judge federal panel unanimously upheld a controversial congressional map backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, despite accusations he and the Legislature discriminated against Black voters.

The judges agreed that the plaintiffs failed to show the Legislature was discriminating when it approved Gov. DeSantis’ map.

“It is not enough for the plaintiffs to show that the Governor was motivated in part by racial animus, which we will assume without deciding for purposes of our decision,” the court wrote. “Rather, they also must prove that the Florida Legislature itself acted with some discriminatory purpose when adopting and passing the Enacted Map. This they have not done.”

The lawsuit targeted DeSantis’ efforts to dismantle a congressional district in North Florida, a district that enabled Black voters to elect their preferred candidates for three decades.

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville) from 1993 to 2016 and U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee) from 2017 to 2022 represented that district, which in its final iteration spanned from Jacksonville to Tallahassee. It was replaced by congressional districts that spread North Florida’s Black population across several districts, none of which elected Black voters’ preferred candidates.

The plaintiffs, which include a group of voters, Common Cause Florida, FairDistricts Now and the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, could appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Common Cause Florida Executive Director Amy Keith said they were “currently in the process of analyzing the ruling and have not yet made a decision about next steps.”

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Federal court rejects congressional redistricting challenge as state lawsuit awaits Florida Supreme Court

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