ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida Supreme Court is staying out of the state’s redistricting effort -- for now.
The state Supreme Court on Thursday denied Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request for an advisory opinion on the Congressional redistricting maps proposed by the Florida Legislature and himself.
The opinion would have specifically focused on House District 5, which stretches across northern Florida, from Tallahassee to Jacksonville. The Florida Legislature’s proposed Congressional map would keep the district as is because it was designed to elect a minority candidate. The district was approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 2015.
However, DeSantis submitted his own map that would change the district to make it more compact and encompass only northeastern Florida.
In its decision, the Supreme Court said the governor’s request would require it to weigh in on complex federal and state constitutional matters, and provide an interpretation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In other words, the court felt the governor’s request was too broad for an advisory opinion.
“Moreover, the governor’s request might necessitate fact-intensive analysis and consideration of other congressional districts, not just District 5,” the court wrote in its decision. “We have no record before us setting forth a functional analysis of statistical evidence, such as the voting age of minority populations and election results.”
The court also notes that final redistricting maps will likely go through subsequent court challenges anyway.
On Friday the governor said the Supreme Court’s decision changes nothing for him, and threatened to veto the redistricting bill.
“I mean, we will not be signing any congressional map that has an unconstitutional gerrymander in it, and that is going to be the position that we stick to so just take that to the bank,” DeSantis said.
Use the slider in the center to see the difference between the two maps. On the left is the map the Florida Senate will consider on Wednesday. On the right is the map proposed by Gov. DeSantis.
The map the Florida Legislature is likely to pass adds a 28th Congressional district to the state while also largely leaving the map as it currently stands.
DeSantis has hinted at possibly vetoing the once-in-a-decade redistricting map as it’s currently designed, should the Florida Legislature pass it. DeSantis says he’s concerned the current map does not conform to the spirit of the current redistricting laws.
DeSantis’ map also has been criticized by Fair Districts advocates as heavily gerrymandered in favor of the Republican Party.
Map redrawing the Florida House and Senate lines have already been passed, but the governor has no say in how those maps are drawn.