Attorneys for Florida’s Secretary of State Laurel Lee fired back at an attempt by Far Left Democrats to block the new congressional redistricting plan backed by Governor Ron DeSantis, saying plaintiffs in a lawsuit want to “revert to some racially gerrymandered” map that would stretch a district across a swath of North Florida to elect a Democrat.
In 2020, Donald Trump would’ve won 20 of the state’s 28 new congressional districts. In 2018, DeSantis would’ve won 18 of the seats. In 2016, Trump would’ve won 17 seats.
The suit, filed by tainted Democratic lawyer Marc Elias’ law firm on behalf of Black Voters Matter, Equal Ground Education Fund, League of Women Voters of Florida, Florida Rising Together and individual voters, was filed in the 2nd Judicial Circuit in Tallahassee.
While the “woke” advocacy groups oppose the DeSantis map in its entirety, the biggest issue is Congressional District 5, which in recent years has sprawled 200 miles from Jacksonville to west of Tallahassee and has tied together communities to help elect a Black candidate. The district is held by U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat.
The new DeSantis-backed map would eliminate the existing Democrat-gerrymandered district by creating two compact districts. DeSantis contended that the sprawling district was unconstitutionally gerrymandered, and the plan passed by the Republican-dominated Legislature condensed the district in the Jacksonville area. Voting-rights groups and other plaintiffs filed the lawsuit and a motion for a temporary injunction, arguing that the new map violates part of a 2010 state constitutional amendment that bars diminishing the ability of minority voters to “elect representatives of their choice.”
The opponents of the new map were unable, in fact did not even try, to explain the contradiction presented to their case by the election of African American conservative Byron Donalds to represent one of the whitest and most conservative congressional districts in the state.
According to reporting by the News Service of Florida, Lee’s attorneys said keeping the current sprawling configuration of District 5 would violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The response contended that the clause bars “race-based sorting of voters” without a “compelling interest” and a “narrowly tailored” means to achieve that interest.
“Plaintiffs have made no attempt to demonstrate how the race-based district they propose could satisfy this high constitutional bar,” Lee’s attorneys wrote. “Indeed, they couldn’t do so, even if they tried.”
Also, Lee’s attorneys argued that the Equal Protection Clause trumps the 2010 state constitutional amendment — known as the “Fair Districts” amendment. That is because of the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which generally gives precedence to federal laws over state laws.
“Importantly, however, the U.S. Supreme Court has never even hinted that compliance with a race-based provision of a state constitution can serve as justification for avoiding the federal guarantees of equal protection,” Lee’s attorneys wrote. “This is for good reason: It would turn the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause on its head.”
The DeSantis plan — creating an 20-8 GOP-Democratic state delegation to Congress — observes U.S. Supreme Court precedents invalidating districts drawn with regards to race.
The State’s response argued that plaintiffs had not shown the new map would diminish the ability to elect Black candidates, saying that, at “best, they show an inability to elect Democratic candidates.”
“In sum, the non-diminishment provision wasn’t put in place to mandate a safe Democratic congressional district,” the state’s attorneys wrote. “Plaintiffs must disentangle partisanship from race before they can trigger the non-diminishment provision.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis
Secretary of State Laurel Lee
Rep. Al Lawson District 5