A judge from the Second Circuit Court has ruled against efforts by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to gerrymander Congressional Districts in North Florida to give the GOP an unfair electoral advantage.
The maps proposed by the governor’s office would potentially add four new Republican seats to the U.S. House of Representatives while cutting down the number of Black majority districts in the state from four to two. They seek to accomplish this by breaking up Florida’s 5th Congressional district, currently held by Democratic Congressman Al Lawson, into several red districts.
In an unprecedented move not seen in recent history, these undemocratic maps were approved during a fast-tracked special session that shattered any semblance of democratic norms and were protested by Florida lawmakers who were silenced during the process by Republicans who hold majorities in the state legislature.
We’re being told on the House Floor that we can’t use the racist history of our nation as a reason why you should vote no on the maps because it might impune colleagues who are voting yes.
It might feel uncomfortable for some, but history is relevant when it’s repeating itself.
— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) April 21, 2022
— Gray Rohrer (@GrayRohrer) April 21, 2022
Circuit Judge Layne Smith ordered Florida to stop their efforts to dismantle the 5th Congressional district and adopt a map that maintains a version of it in the northern part of the state.
“I am finding the enacted map is unconstitutional because it diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect candidates of their choice,” said Judge Layne.
Over and over again, we said this was unconstitutional. We said it diminished Black voters' ability to choose. We said it was wrong. Judge: “I am finding the enacted map is unconstitutional because it diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect candidates of their choice.” https://t.co/mi3EQar1lX
— Florida House Democrats (@FLHouseDems) May 11, 2022
Voting rights advocates and democracy enthusiasts welcomed the news of this setback against DeSantis’ efforts to gerrymander Florida to his advantage, but the governor’s office has stated they plan to appeal the ruling, which could end up at the Florida Supreme Court.
This ruling affirms that every Floridian, no matter our background or where we’re from, deserves to be the hero of our own story by using our vote to elect those who share our values and protect our interests. Black political power is EVERYTHING! https://t.co/wJOyhEJmhK
— Rep. Angie Nixon (@AngieNixon) May 11, 2022
Time and time again we have said that the Governor’s Congressional map is UNCONSTITUTIONAL and erases people of color. Now a judge has verified that. 👇 https://t.co/Z1MCJQzDto
— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) May 11, 2022
Florida’s primary elections are taking place in August, meaning that chaos has been injected into the democratic process by DeSantis’ meddling with the redistricting process. Republicans had already approved a map by 67-47 in the House and 24-15 in the Senate that, while by no means perfect, was perceived as being less aggressively gerrymandered than what was originally expected. DeSantis bulldozed those efforts by vetoing those maps and demanding his own to be adopted, making himself the only governor in recent history to impose himself in such an authoritarian manner in the redistricting of maps.
Thomas Kennedy is an elected Democratic National Committee member representing Florida. He tweets from @tomaskenn.
is a former reported opinion columnist and roving correspondent. He's an elected member of the Democratic National Committee from Florida and a fomer Director of Sunshine Agenda Inc. a government transparency nonprofit organization.