Florida's Congressional Map Problem


Wednesday, state Circuit Judge J. Layne Smith ruled against the state’s new congressional map. The one we recently had a special session to pass. The one Governor DeSantis essentially drew. And the judge who made the ruling. One Governor DeSantis himself had picked. The ruling was made citing concerns related to the district currently represented by Al Lawson. In the ruling, Smith stated minority representation was more important than geography. When I read the preliminary opinion, I felt like I was flashing back to my own writing. In my January 18th Q&A entitled: How Florida’s Redistricting Maps Must Be Drawn, I said this: While I think most Floridians would think geography would be the top consideration, independent of other factors, it’s not. And legally it can’t be. Under the Voting Rights Act, priority is given to the protection of racial minorities first, and geography second. Each district must have approximately the same number of people, representing racial balance and then attempting to make geographical sense. Independent of actual gerrymandering efforts, the reason why maps/districts, will often include long slivers of people extending alongside other districts is a result of these factors. Judge Smith’s interpretation of the law was no different than my interpretation and understanding of the law. This is to say that if a DeSantis appointed judge sees it that way, and the argument is consistent with yours truly as cited at the onset of this process... What are the odds the Supreme Court flush with DeSantis appointees will see it differently? Florida, we potentially, perhaps even likely, have a map problem.  

Florida state sign

Photo: Getty Images


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