Florida, black voters, district maps

Florida Judge Says Florida Voting Map Violates State Constitution

A Florida redistricting plan championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis was declared unconstitutional by Circuit Judge J. Lee Marsh. As reported by NBC News, Marsh sent the plan back to the Florida State Legislature with instructions that it meet the requirements established by the Florida Constitution. Marsh ruled that the map hampered the ability of the state’s Black citizens to choose a state representative that aligned with their political interests.

Marsh stated in his written decision that groups challenging the map “have shown that the enacted plan results in the diminishment of Black voters’ ability to elect their candidate of choice in violation of the Florida Constitution.”

This decision follows two cases in June 2023 that featured Republican-drawn redistricting maps that the United States Supreme Court struck down. Even the court’s conservative judges found the maps drawn in Alabama and Louisiana, respectively, to be flagrant efforts to attempt to weaken the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In both cases, Republicans have signaled their willingness to appeal because they believe that the maps as they currently exist favor Democratic candidates. 

DeSantis created his own map after vetoing the map submitted by the Republican-dominated Florida State Legislature. DeSantis’s map was designed to get U.S. Rep Al Lawson, a Black man, out of office by creating districts that parceled out areas where Black people voted for Republican candidates. Under DeSantis’s map, Florida would essentially become a state ruled by white politicians despite the population of Florida being 17% Black. Voting rights advocates argued in their lawsuit that this arrangement violated Florida voting law and federal voting rights protections. Marsh wrote in his brief that the defendants failed to persuasively argue that the state’s provision establishing that minority-dominant districts are protected from being weakened or eliminated was, in fact, a violation of the United States Constitution. 

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