'Florida will be sued': Lawyers and legal advocates push back against Florida's GOP-led agenda to redraw congressional maps

'Florida will be sued': Lawyers and legal advocates push back against Florida's GOP-led agenda to redraw congressional maps
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Lawyers and legal advocates are pushing back with threats of litigation if Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) moves forward with the state's Republican-proposed congressional redistricting plan.

Next week, Florida lawmakers will begin their special session and the controversial redistricting maps are a subject of debate and contention.

Per The Florida Phoenix: "According to data analyst and campaign consultant Matthew Isbell, the governor’s map would give Republicans 20 seats against eight for Democrats (Florida gained an additional congressional district following the 2020 U.S. Census)."

But litigators are making it clear they have no intent on sitting still if DeSantis and Republican lawmakers bring the plan to fruition. According to The Florida Phoenix, a number of opposing legal advocates have weighed in with their concerns about the initiative.

Marc Elias, a litigator who also founded The Democracy Docket, weighed in during a Twitter spaces discussion. “I can assure everyone there are lots of lawyers and organizations and groups that are tracking this,” Elias said.

He also said, “It’s important that people contact even their own Democratic legislature legislators — not because the Democrats would support this map, but because it’s important that as the Democrats in the state Legislature stand up to this, they know that the people are behind them."

Isbell also noted that he believes DeSantis is motivated by this initiative because it can be used "as a partisan tool" that would be favorable for Republicans.

“Is Ron going to tell me he thinks the 5th district is too long, but he’s ok with the 20th? And he has issues with the Duval-only 5th the Legislature proposed? It is clear, more than ever, this is all about partisanship. Ron doesn’t care about compactness,” Isbell wrote.

He added, “Ron only cares about compactness when he can use it as a partisan tool.”

DeSantis' office released a written statement detailing his concerns. “These issues include the constitutional concerns as outlined in the general counsel’s previous memo and the governor’s veto letter," the letter said. "In preparing this proposal, the governor’s office has adhered to geographical and political boundaries whenever possible, and indeed did so at a greater rate than the Legislature’s primary map."

However, Democratic lawmakers also are deeply critical of the proposal. After DeSantis released his proposal, Rep. Al Lawson Jr. (D-Fla.) also released a statement to The Phoenix criticizing the governor's actions. “Today’s revelation is a continued scheme by DeSantis to erase minority access districts in Congress in order to create more seats for the Republican party.

“DeSantis is doing a disservice to Florida voters by playing partisan politics. This latest map clearly violates the Voting Rights Act as well as the U.S. and Florida Constitutions.”

State Sen. Linda Stewart (D-Fla.) also insists that DeSantis' initiative seems nonsensical. “He doesn’t have a long-range view of what he wants to accomplish. He’s just doing what he thinks he can do and that nobody can stop him. He’s right — it doesn’t mean he’s doing the right thing,” Stewart said.

“It’ll go to the Florida Supreme Court — he appointed three people to that so I don’t know if they’ll go by the law or not. Then it’ll go to the [U.S.] Supreme Court — do you know how much time that’s going to take?"she said. "If the map passes, what he introduced, they have to run on this map before the Supreme Court weighs in on whether it’s legal or not.

She added, “And then, if they say it’s not legal, they’ll have to rerun again.”

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