March 4, 2022 Updated 10:33 A.M. ET
TALLAHASSEE (FCV) – Florida’s intense redistricting fight wages on, and the Florida House is going to vote on the congressional map proposal Friday.
Governor Ron DeSantis (R) announced that the redistricting map is “DOA” – dead on arrival.
The Florida House Redistricting Committee, Chaired by Thomas Leek (R), approved a ‘Plan A’ and ‘Plan B’ map that would gut the controversial FL-5 district which was drawn to span around 200 miles from Jacksonville past Tallahassee and reform it into just Jacksonville.
Supporters of FL-5 claim that it is a ‘minority’ protected district under the Voting Rights Act. FL-5 is currently 39% white, 46.5% black, 2.7% Asian, and 0.4% Native American. Alfred Lawson (D) represents the district in Congress.
Critics of FL-5 point to the Supreme Court Decision Bartlett v. Strickland, which states that so-called minority protected districts must make up more than 50% of the voting population. In FL-5, and another likely racially gerrymandered district, FL-10 in Central Florida, the 50% threshold among a racial group has not been reached. FL-10 is 26% black.
According to RedState, a source said that some Republicans on the Redistricting Committee were “trying to protect” Lawson from losing his seat by maintaining FL-5 in its current form.
However, Governor Ron DeSantis (R) had to push hard to prevent Republicans from keeping the racially gerrymandered, and in the opinion of legal scholars, unconstitutional, FL-5 district in tact.
DeSantis said that he will veto any map proposed by the legislature that contains “unconstitutional districts” – referring to FL-5 – and that the legislature can “tale that to the bank.”
The map from the House draws FL-5 in a racially gerrymandered district centered in Jacksonville, with FL-4 awkwardly encompassing it. It does not contain a majority of any racial minority group.
FCV spoke with Florida State Representative Jason Fischer (R) on the redistricting issue. Fischer was recently removed from his spot on the Redistricting Committee.
“I was elected to do what’s right, not what is easy. These maps clearly violate the Constitution, and I’m standing with Governor DeSantis in upholding our conservative principles,” Fischer remarked.
Fischer, and many other conservatives like DeSantis, repeatedly point out that the proposed maps from House Republicans are unconstitutional.
Article III Section 20 (a) of the Florida Constitution says that districts cannot be drawn to favor or disfavor a party or incumbent, and that they may not deny or abridge the equal opportunity of racial minorities to elect a representative of their choice.
Critics of the new maps say that drawing these districts with the explicit intent to concentrate black voters – who do not constitute a minority – into one district violates these rules and abridges the opportunity of other minorities to have their fair say in the democratic process.
The map is likely to pass the vote on Friday, but conservatives are increasingly impatient with Republican leadership in the Florida House playing hardball with DeSantis and presenting a ‘Plan B’ keeping FL-5.
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