Florida Republicans may have trounced Democrats in the midterms, but a federal court says they still have to answer for their congressional redistricting plan, which opponents have called “racially discriminatory.”
It’s no secret that Florida Republicans have been in hot water for their voting shenanigans ahead of the November midterms. In April, the Justice Department tore into the Florida GOP’s new voting restrictions, which they said intentionally targeted Black voters. And, reporting from the ground in Florida from The Washington Post on Monday only further elevated concerns that these laws were deterring Black Floridians from voting.
And while the Florida GOP may have gotten away with a lot of these measures this election, they haven’t been able to wriggle out of their current legal trouble just yet.
In a 2-1 vote, a panel of federal judges decided to press forward with a lawsuit alleging that the state had racially gerrymandered its new congressional maps. The lawsuit alleges that the state violated the 14th and 15 amendments of the constitution and intentionally diluted the power of Black voters.
According to the original lawsuit, the GOP did this through a two-pronged strategy known as “cracking” and “packing” in predominantly-Black districts.
When you “crack” a map, you generally take a minority district ,and split the minority group amongst different new districts. That way, you dilute the power of that minority group, in this case Black Americans, by placing them into districts where they no longer have the power to be a politically salient voting group.
“Packing” a map is sort of the opposite. You “pack” a bunch of minority voters into one or more districts. That way you limit the number of seats they can get in Congress.
So let’s say you have four districts that are predominantly-Black and consistently send four Democrats to congress. With “packing,” Republicans can form one super district that only sends one Democrat to Congress.
The judges who heard this case argued that the plan “negatively impacts” Black voters, although they agreed to drop Governor Ron DeSantis as a defendant in this case.
“First, the congressional districting plan negatively impacts Black voters in Florida because it destroys or diminishes two opportunity or crossover districts,” the judges said in the opinion. “Second, Florida has a history of suppressing Black voters. Third, there were departures from procedural norms.”