Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) submitted a second round of maps for congressional redistricting earlier this week. It comes as the redistricting process has been stalled in the Florida Legislature.
The most controversial part of DeSantis’ first submission was the inclusion of boundaries eliminating District 5 as it currently stands, held by Congressman Al Lawson (R-FL-5), which stretches from Tallahassee to Jacksonville along Florida’s northern boundary with Georgia.
DeSantis and his team have maintained District 5 is gerrymandered and requested the Florida Supreme Court to weigh in. However, Florida’s high court rejected DeSantis’ request for an advisory opinion.
The justices wrote that “the scope of the governor’s request is broad and contains multiple questions that implicate complex federal and state constitutional matters and precedents interpreting the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
The Florida Supreme Court also said that there will be a likelihood of challenges coming after the maps are ratified, and the issue will play out through the legal process.
“While this Court acknowledges the importance of the issues presented by the Governor and the expressed need for quick resolution and finality, history shows that the constitutionality of a final redistricting bill for all congressional districts will be subject to more judicial review through subsequent challenges in court.”
The second map submitted by DeSantis retains many of the features from the original map submission while also having significant changes to Northeast and Central Florida districts.
Jacksonville and some counties surrounding it would be split between District 3 and District 4. District 3 would contain the west and north side of Jacksonville into surrounding counties. District 4 would encompass southern and eastern portions of Duval County including St. Augustine in St. Johns County.
In Central Florida, District 10, currently held by Congresswoman Val Demings (D-FL-10) is a smaller district in the Orlando area. Under DeSantis’ second submission District 10 would stretch from west Orange County up to The Villages.
Pundits and political analysts have said the new submission steers some of Florida’s congressional districts to lean-Republican, as it breaks up reliably Democratic districts. Florida’s Constitution, however, dictates that boundaries cannot be rearranged for political purposes.
DeSantis has already indicated he would veto any proposal that currently keeps District 5 intact.
“We will not be signing any congressional map that has an unconstitutional gerrymander in it,” DeSantis said. “And that is going to be the position that we stick to, so just take that to the bank.”
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