Redistricted map ruled unconstitutional will still be used in November midterm election

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It has been ruled unconstitutional because it targets Black voters in North and Central Florida, but the congressional map drawn by Gov. Ron DeSantis will nonetheless be used in November.

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On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court decided not to take up the map before the midterms, meaning DeSantis’ map will have to be used.

The court could have acted faster, but it chose not to.

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All sides agree the map will end up before the Florida Supreme Court. The question is when. And with the court deciding today, it will take its time.

Meanwhile, a Black congressional district in North Florida has been erased, and one in Central Florida has been redrawn.

In May, Judge J. Layne Smith, who was appointed by former Gov. Rick Scott and elevated by DeSantis, ruled that DeSantis’ congressional map violated the state constitution for breaking up Black opportunity districts.

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Smith suggested a new map, but that was put on hold while the case was appealed.

With the clock ticking to get this resolved before the midterm elections, voting rights groups asked the Florida Supreme Court to intervene, but on Thursday the court declined and issued a four-day decision, essentially punting on the issues.

“The courts have decided to wrap themselves in the cloak of procedure, and instead they have chosen not to prioritize voters,” said Jasmine Burney-Clark, co-founder of Equal Ground, one of the groups opposing DeSantis’ map.

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She notes that the court’s decision not to act means voters will be stuck with a map that’s already been ruled unconstitutional.

“They have a docket of cases they have to decide on and our judicial system made sure that maps were not one of their priorities,” Burney-Clark said.

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Florida Supreme Court Justice Jorge Labarga dissented in the case, saying in part that the case will eventually get to the Supreme Court.

The “DeSantis map” will be used this year and if history is any guide, it might not be until 2024 that the courts issue a final decision and a new map is created.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.