Lawsuit challenges legitimacy of U.S Rep. Corrine Brown's district

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - As Congress becomes more polarized, a significant lawsuit that could make districts more competitive was just filed, in Orlando federal court.

The subject of the lawsuit is Florida's 5th Congressional District, an oddly-shaped district that stretches through eight counties from Duval to Orange. Rep. Corrine Brown has held the seat since being elected to Congress in 1992.

The lawsuit alleges the district is racially gerrymandered and violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

The evidence, according to the suit, is that the district has an unjustifiable concentration of African-American voters, and fails to use city, county, or geographical boundaries.

One of the plaintiffs, James C. Miller, Sr., a black man from Gainesville, said he joined the suit because he believes districts need to be more competitive.

"(Brown) started feeding at the public trough and getting re-elected each time, regardless of doing anything," said Miller.

But other blacks are upset at the effort that they believe would break up their ability to have the person who best represents them.

Parramore-area advocate Lawanna Gelzer said she received a call to join the lawsuit.

"They were not just targeting this congressional district, but a lot of African-American congressional districts throughout the country. I have a problem with that," said Gelzer.

Brown said she is disappointed by the lawsuit, especially since it's being filed just before Martin Luther King Day on Monday.

The federal trial is set to start May 19 in Orlando.