A rehearing is rejected in Florida’s congressional redistricting

Florida redistricting
Redrawn Congressional districts proposed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in April, 2022.

©2024 The News Service of Florida

A federal court Tuesday rejected a request by voting rights groups to reconsider a ruling that upheld the constitutionality of a Florida congressional redistricting plan.

A three-judge panel issued an order denying a motion for rehearing. Attorneys for groups such as Common Cause Florida and the Florida NAACP filed the motion in April, urging the panel to look again at whether the redistricting plan was passed in 2022 with a racially discriminatory motive.

The panel on March 27 ruled that the plaintiffs had not met a key test of showing that the Legislature acted with racial motivation.

The case stemmed from a redistricting plan that Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed through the Legislature and focused on the overhaul of North Florida’s Congressional District 5.

The district in the past elected Black Democrat Al Lawson. White Republicans won all North Florida congressional districts in the 2022 elections after the district was revamped. In the order Tuesday, the panel reiterated its view that the plaintiffs had not shown racial motivation by the Legislature.

“Our unanimous conclusion was straightforward: Even if we assumed for argument’s sake that the governor acted with impermissible racial animus, the Legislature that enacted the challenged map did not,” the four-page order said. “This doomed plaintiffs’ claims. Plaintiffs insist this straightforward conclusion was mistaken, but their arguments are not persuasive.”

Unlike typical cases, three-judge panels hear redistricting cases.

The panel was made up of Adalberto Jordan, a judge on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and U.S. District Judges M. Casey Rodgers and Allen Winsor.

A separate challenge to the redistricting plan is pending at the Florida Supreme Court.

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