Ron DeSantis Hit With Lawsuit To Thwart Gerrymandering Attempt

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A lawsuit has been filed in hopes of stopping the implementation of controversial, new, GOP-backed Congressional district lines in Florida. The new map — put in place after Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed previous district lines passed by the GOP-controlled state legislature — essentially wipes away a district in the northern part of the state that’s currently represented by Rep. Al Lawson (D), who is Black. Under the new map, areas that were previously part of Lawson’s district end up in four different districts — and issues with the configuration extend from there. The map also appears poised to deliver 20 seats that lean towards the Republicans and just eight that lean towards Democrats. Trump won in Florida in 2020 with a little over 51 percent of the vote — not more than 71 percent, as that partisan breakdown of districts suggests.

The new lawsuit was filed on behalf of Black Voters Matter, the Equal Ground Education Fund, the League of Women Voters of Florida, Florida Rising Together, and individual Florida voters, and the case alleges that the new Congressional district map violates the Florida Constitution. Those behind this effort claim that the lines violate anti-gerrymandering provisions approved by Florida voters for the state Constitution back in 2010. As explained by the voting rights organization Democracy Docket, “First, the plaintiffs argue that the DeSantis map violates the amendment by diminishing the ability of Black Floridians to elect their candidates of choice… Second, the plaintiffs argue that DeSantis’ map violates the amendment’s ban on partisan gerrymandering by intentionally favoring the Republican Party at the expense of the Democratic Party.” Plaintiffs are hoping to get the DeSantis-backed Congressional map blocked and a new map that abides by those state constitutional provisions ordered to be drawn.

In other news regarding court fights over redistricting, a state court in Kansas recently struck down a new Congressional district map for the state approved by Republicans in the state legislature over the objections of Democratic Governor Laura Kelly. Among other issues, that map — which seemed poised to deliver every one of the state’s four U.S. House seats to Republicans — apparently split the state’s most racially and ethnically diverse county into more than one Congressional district for the first time in decades. The Kansas state Supreme Court is set to review that ruling — and on that court, a majority of the current Justices were appointed by Democrats, suggesting that the court might come down on the side of voting rights rather than Republican exploitation of the redistricting process. Currently, Kansas has just one Democrat — Sharice Davids — among its representatives in the House, and Republicans dealing with redistricting in the state had hoped to significantly alter her district. The GOP-backed plan put some 45,000 Black and Latino voters from the area Davids represents in a new district, currently represented by a Republican.