Court date set to determine if Florida drew Congressional districts that violated state Constitution by diminishing minority representation

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

A Leon County circuit judge will hear arguments Aug. 24 in a legal battle about a congressional redistricting plan that Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed through the Legislature in 2022.

Judge J. Lee Marsh scheduled the arguments after attorneys for the state and a coalition of voting rights groups narrowed issues in the case, short-circuiting the need for a full trial that had been scheduled next week.

The attorneys asked to hold arguments on the remaining issues Aug. 24, and Marsh issued an order approving the request.

The case centers on a plan that the Republican-controlled Legislature passed in 2022 that dramatically revamped North Florida’s Congressional District 5.

The district in the past elected Black Democrat Al Lawson, but the 2022 plan helped lead to Republicans getting elected in congressional districts across North Florida.

Voting rights groups have argued in the lawsuit that the new map violated a 2010 state constitutional amendment that barred drawing districts that would “diminish” the ability of minorities to “elect representatives of their choice.”

But attorneys for the state contend that applying the state Constitution’s so-called “non-diminishment” standard to the North Florida district would violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Lawmakers passed the plan after DeSantis vetoed an earlier proposal.

©2023 The News Service of Florida

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