TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A lawsuit filed by voting rights advocates Black Voters Matter has been defeated in court. The Florida Supreme Court rejected the request to draw different congressional maps than those approved in the previous court effort, meaning the maps offered up by Gov. Ron DeSantis will be the ones used during the 2022 elections.
The injunction requested in a Florida district court, to stay the map supported by DeSantis and use a different one drawn by a Harvard professor, was denied. Additionally, the Black Voters Matter request that a judge provide a “constitutional writ” was also denied.
The Florida Supreme Court’s decision to preserve the previous map was based on what they said was a lack of jurisdiction.
“Here Petitioners ask this Court to intervene in the First District Court of Appeal’s ongoing consideration of an appeal of an order imposing a temporary injunction,” the court wrote. “At this time, this Court does not have jurisdiction over that matter.”
Additionally, the court said that they did not know whether the First District’s decision would “provide an appropriate basis for this Court’s exercise of discretionary review—meaning that we cannot say that it is likely that there is any jurisdiction to protect.”
The court said they will not entertain a motion for rehearing, and all pending motions were denied.
The lone dissenting vote of what was a 4-1 decision came from Justice Jorge Labarga. In his written dissent, he referred to the Florida Supreme Court’s history of deciding maps in the past.
“Given this Court’s history of considering congressional redistricting cases, I cannot forecast that we will lack jurisdiction to review the district court’s merits decision. At stake here is the mandate of 62.9% of Florida voters who voted in 2010 for one of what are commonly known as the Fair Districts Amendments to the Florida Constitution—by any measure of comparison, 62.9% of the vote is an overwhelming margin,” Labarga wrote.
After the 2010 Census, and subsequent congressional map adjustments, Florida’s maps were contested. The process took five years, after which the court chose maps, installed for use in elections in 2015.
Following the 2020 Census, the 2015 map was set to be redrawn due to congressional reapportionment. The state of Florida had gained a federal congressional seat, and the state’s own maps had to be redrawn as well.
Having failed to pass a map supported by the governor, DeSantis vetoed the map put forth by the Florida Legislature, a special session was called to address the map needs of the state.
Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justice Alan Lawson recused themselves from the case. A reason for the recusals was not given in the latest court opinion.
As previously reported, the map decisions come ahead of a deadline. Florida’s election qualifiers to run for federal office will be held June 13 to June 17, according to Florida’s Department of State. A change of congressional districts will affect which residents residents are mapped to which congressional seat.
Primaries for the 2022 midterm elections are on Aug. 23, with the General Election on Nov. 8.
Equal Ground, a voting rights advocacy organization, released a statement in response to the Florida Supreme Court’s decision.
“With today’s ruling, the Florida Supreme Court has shown complete disregard for the Florida Constitution and the solemn oath they swore. Governor DeSantis’ proposed map is a blatantly unconstitutional attack on Black representation in Florida and a violation of the Fair Districts Amendment,” Jasmine Burney-Clark, founder of Equal Ground, said. “We, the people of Florida, are not going anywhere, and the fight is not over. It has been a long journey, and we will not stop until Black voters are heard and given the equal representation they deserve – and are constitutionally given.”