Washington, D.C. – A group of individual voter-plaintiffs and the community-based organizations Black Voters Matter, Equal Ground, the League of Women Voters of Florida, and Florida Rising, supported by the National Redistricting Foundation (NRF), are challenging Florida’s recently enacted congressional map for violating Article III, § 20 of the Florida Constitution, commonly known as the Fair Districts Amendment. Plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that the congressional plan and/or individual districts in the congressional plan violate the Fair Districts Amendment and order the adoption of a new congressional plan that complies with the Constitution. The lawsuit, Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute v. Lee, was filed in the Circuit Court of Leon County.
Throughout the redistricting process, Governor DeSantis repeatedly threatened to veto any map that the Florida legislature passed if it did not meet his demands. He followed through on that threat and vetoed the congressional map initially passed by both chambers of the legislature. Governor DeSantis then proposed his own map (“the DeSantis Plan”), which received an overwhelming amount of public testimony against, and was then, in turn, passed by the legislature during a special session that began on April 19 and lasted only three days.
Among other deficiencies, the DeSantis Plan violates the Fair Districts Amendment by purposefully diminishing minority voting strength and diminishing the ability of Black voters to elect representatives of their choice, specifically in the Black opportunity district CD-05 which was created by the Florida Supreme Court following a challenge to the previous decade’s gerrymander, and by intentionally favoring the Republican Party and disfavoring the Democratic Party. It also draws CD-14 across Tampa Bay, packing Democratic voters and connecting St. Petersburg and Tampa by nothing but water, an action that was ruled legally impermissible during the last redistricting cycle.
In 2020, President Biden won 47.9 percent of the vote statewide in Florida, but he would win just over a quarter of the Congressional seats because of the map’s extreme gerrymander.
The complaint can be found here.
The National Redistricting Foundation is the 501(c)(3) affiliate of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, and was formed in 2017 to engage in work that protects voting rights and challenges gerrymandered congressional and state legislative districts. The National Redistricting Foundation has funded and executed lawsuits that include, but are not limited to, overturning gerrymandered congressional and state legislative maps in North Carolina, successfully challenging the Trump Administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the Census, and protecting Wisconsin voters from former Governor Scott Walker’s refusal to call special elections and attacks on early voting.