Circuit Judge J. Lee Marsh has ruled that Florida’s redistricting plan, supported by Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL), is unconstitutional.
Marsh’s decision stated that the plan disproportionately affected the voting power of black voters, particularly in the state’s northern region, as reported by Fox News.
As a result of this ruling, the state will need to create a new redistricting map for congressional districts. It is highly likely that Governor DeSantis will appeal Marsh’s decision.
A central figure in this case is former U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, a Democrat from Florida. The new redistricting map divided Lawson’s district, which had a substantial black voter base.
Lawson’s loss by a 20-point margin in the 2022 election led him to claim that the redrawn district boundaries were responsible for his defeat, rather than voter dissatisfaction.
Republicans in the Florida Legislature proposed a redistricting map that could have favored Lawson’s reelection.
However, the DeSantis administration introduced its own version of the map and expressed its intention to reject any alternative, according to the Fox report.
This battle over district boundaries is occurring while Governor DeSantis is managing the state’s response to Hurricane Idalia and campaigning for the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination.
The governor cited the state’s disaster response efforts as the reason for not meeting with President Joe Biden during the president’s visit to the state.
DeSantis’ spokesperson, Jeremy Redfern, explained that the security preparations required for such a meeting in rural communities immediately after a disaster would disrupt ongoing recovery efforts.
President Biden’s visit primarily aimed to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Idalia, as noted in the Fox report. Biden called on Congress to increase disaster relief funding for Florida from the initially requested $12 billion to $16 billion.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre commented on DeSantis’ absence during Biden’s visit, stating that there was no prior indication that the governor would not be present.
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