Florida’s Supreme Court refused to consider a challenge to congressional maps endorsed by Gov. Ron Desantis and the state’s GOP heavy legislative branch, the New York Times reports. Now, it is highly likely that the maps challenged by outside groups who allegedly violated the state’s Fair Districts amendments by diminishing the ability of Black voters to elect a representative of their choice will stay in place for the 2022 midterms.
The new map ordered by Desantis dismantled the 5th Congressional District, where half its residents are Black and is currently represented by Rep. Al Lawson (D). With the redrawn map, Republicans could gain four new GOP-leaning seats, meaning that 20 of the state’s 28 districts favor Republicans.
Groups such as Black Voters Matter, Equal Ground Education Fund, and League of Women Voters of Florida argued in the lawsuit the maps “ignored an amendment to the State Constitution approved by voters in 2010 that outlawed partisan mapmaking and specifically barred the creation of districts that diminished the ability of minority voters to elect their chosen candidates.”
In February, Desantis submitted a map proposal and was rejected by the court, claiming his request was “too broad in scope” for judges to consider. Previously, Desantishad rejected maps that gave Republicans less of an advantage. Following this, GOP lawmakers gave the governor unprecedented power to redraw the maps how he saw fit.
A circuit court struck parts of the map down, stating it “diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect candidates of their choice.” Finally, an appeals court reinstated the congressional maps claiming the injunction levied by the earlier circuit court decision was unlawful because “by awarding a preliminary remedy to the appellees’ on their claim, the order ‘frustrated the status quo, rather than preserved it,’”
Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal will have the final say, but most likely, the maps remain.