Groups sue state over new Florida congressional map

ORLANDO, Fla. — In 2010, Florida voters amended the state constitution to create “fair districts” barring lawmakers from drawing maps to favor one political party or incumbent. Two years after the constitution was amended, lawmakers drew new maps and, according to courts, violated the constitution.

Now, more than a decade later, several groups say the new congressional map drawn by Governor Ron DeSantis and passed by the legislature violates the constitution as well.

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“Clearly it explicitly diminishes the opportunity for black voters in northern Florida and elsewhere to elect the candidate of their choice. These are on-their-face provisions that are violated by the map that was passed last week,” says Marina Jenkins, an attorney with the National Redistricting Foundation, one of the groups suing the state.

Groups suing the state say the map signed into law last week diminished black voting opportunities in central Florida’s District 10, while eliminating two opportunity districts in north Florida, including District 5.

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“Our organization is of the mind that the way ‘fair districts’ has been interpreted in the past should continue to be applied in the same way,” says Jenkins.

“This was an unconstitutional decision,” says Jasmine Burney-Clark of Equal Ground, a plaintiff in the suit. “You cannot draw (a) map to favor one party over another, you also can’t draw a map to remove minority access districts. Florida only had two of these districts. This map removes two.”

READ: DeSantis, Florida lawmakers sued by groups over congressional maps

The suit, filed in Leon County, points to the previous plan passed by the legislature and vetoed by the governor, saying that, while it did have a political bias, the bias was not as extreme as in the plan drawn by the governor and passed by the legislature last week.

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“It is clear these maps were drawn to favor the Republican Party,” says Burney-Clark.

So far the state has not responded to the suit. However, lawmakers did set aside $1 million for litigation costs to cover defending the map.

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