Florida High Court Turns Down DeSantis Redistricting Request

Florida High Court Turns Down DeSantis Redistricting Request

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) — The Florida Supreme Court has turned down a request by Gov. Ron DeSantis in which he asked for an advisory opinion about whether a Black congressman’s North Florida congressional district is unconstitutional.

The high court said Thursday it won’t answer his question because it’s too complicated to simply answer in an advisory opinion.

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DeSantis has interjected himself into the once-a-decade process of drawing new congressional maps, something highly unusual for a governor to do. The House and Senate have considered maps that largely left Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson’s district intact, but DeSantis is pushing a map that would make his district lean Republican.

After submitting his map, DeSantis asked the Supreme Court if Lawson’s district is unconstitutional. The district runs from Jacksonville to Gadsden County west of Tallahassee, a distance of about 200 miles. DeSantis questioned whether drawing it to contain Black communities so far apart met the state and federal constitutions.

“The scope of the Governor’s request is broad and contains multiple questions that implicate complex federal and state constitutional matters and precedents interpreting the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” it wrote.

The governor’s office accepted the opinion gracefully.

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“While we were hopeful the Supreme Court would provide clarity to legal questions surrounding the maps that are under consideration, we agree with the Court’s opinion that there are important issues that must be addressed quickly,” DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske said in an email.
Lawson praised the decision in a statement emailed to reporters.

“Ron DeSantis wanted the Supreme Court to violate the separation of powers and engage the judicial branch in partisan politics. They wisely and correctly rejected his request. Yes, Ron DeSantis lost today, but more importantly, democracy and the Constitution won,” he said.

Democratic state Rep. Kelly Skidmore, who is on the House congressional redistricting committee, said she was glad the court recognized the separation of powers in the government branches.

“It’s time to set aside this political distraction and get back to work. Floridians expect us to create fair maps that uphold the Florida and U.S. constitutions, and that’s exactly what we plan to do,” she said in an emailed statement.

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(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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