Unconstitutional DeSantis-Backed Voting Map Rejected by Florida Judge

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A Florida judge has ruled that a congressional redistricting map approved by Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022 was unconstitutional due to diluting the political power of Black communities. The redistricting map had redrafted a north Florida congressional district, previously represented by Democrat Al Lawson, into districts represented by white Republicans. The judge ordered the map to be redrawn to comply with the state’s constitution, with the state expected to appeal the ruling.

A Florida judge ruled for voting rights groups against a 2022 congressional redistricting map approved by Ron DeSantis, criticized for weakening political influence in Black communities.

Judge J Lee Marsh instructed the Florida legislature to redraw the map, in accordance with the state’s constitution.

Marsh stated that the map undermined the electoral power of Black voters, in violation of the Florida constitution. The state is expected to appeal, which will likely escalate the case to the Florida supreme court.

The lawsuit targeted a district formerly represented by Black Democrat Al Lawson, which was divided into districts represented by white Republicans. DeSantis vetoed a map that preserved Lawson’s district and submitted his own map for approval.

“This is a major victory for fair representation for Black Floridians,” Olivia Mendoza, director of litigation and policy for the National Redistricting Foundation, stated.

In 2022, the Florida Legislative Black Caucus condemned the DeSantis-approved congressional map as voter suppression.

The map resulted in Florida Republicans gaining four additional congressional seats, and a slim Republican majority in the House.

Prior to the ruling, the state and voting rights groups agreed to narrow the lawsuit’s scope to focus on Lawson’s seat, while a separate lawsuit remains over the state’s congressional maps.

This ruling is the latest against Republican-drawn maps in the south, amid concerns of diminished Black voting power.

In June, the US supreme court overturned a Republican drawn map in Alabama and soon after resumed a case involving redistricting in Louisiana, increasing chances of a second district empowering Black voters.

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