Gov. DeSantis vetoes Florida redistricting maps, calls for special legislative session

Governor argues maps approved by legislature complied with Florida’s constitution, ran afoul of the 14th Amendment

(AP Photo/John Raoux) (John Raoux, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday he has formally vetoed the redistricting maps approved by the Florida legislature, prompting him to call for a special session to redraw the maps again.

“I will be issuing a proclamation to do a special legislative session that is going to be in the middle of April,” DeSantis said following the announcement of his veto.

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DeSantis argued the maps approved by the state’s legislature complied with Florida’s constitution but ran afoul of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“In their, I guess understandable, zeal to try to comply with what they believe the Florida constitution was required, they forgot to make sure what they were doing complied with the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” he said.

The Florida House passed two redistricting maps, including a backup map, on March 4 with a largely party-line vote, though seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the maps.

Then the Florida Senate, after a short debate, passed the new maps along party lines, 24-15.

Currently, Florida’s Congressional map includes a U.S. House district, Congressional District 5, that stretches from Jacksonville to Tallahassee and is considered a majority Black district. The primary House map (H 8017) creates a Congressional District 5 that exists only in Duval County.

The House also approved a backup map (H 8015) in case the primary House map is ruled unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court.

That map leaves Congressional District 5 as is. The shape and size of District 5 is a key issue for DeSantis.

“I think if you did a map along the lines that we had proposed, you will — that will be challenged and there’ll be plaintiffs that will say that that big district in North Florida, the District 5, that that’s diminishment and that must be put in and they’re going to ask courts, most likely state courts up to the Florida Supreme Court, to put that district back in and they will cite that provision of Florida constitution. We will obviously say it’s unconstitutional to draw a district like that where race is the only factor and so that will be a decision that probably is enough to resolve the map,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis was referring to Article III, Section 20 and 22 of Florida’s constitution which states, “Districts may not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process; or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice.”

DeSantis argues a later U.S. Supreme Court ruling determined that districts can’t be drawn with race being the primary factor.

The governor submitted his own maps for consideration prior to the legislature’s passage of its maps. His map completely changes the shape of District 5 and moves it slightly to the south.

[RELATED: Gov. DeSantis map in full ]

It also changes Florida’s 10th Congressional district, which is represented by Val Demings, D-Orlando — who is currently looking to unseat Sen. Marco Rubio. Instead of a majority-minority district encompassing part of Orange County, it becomes a majority-white district that includes parts of Seminole and Lake counties as well.

The governor’s map would likely result in two Black members of Congress losing their seats.

Republican Senate President Wilton Simpson and Republican House Speaker Chris Sprowls told lawmakers to return to the Capitol on April 19-22.

“Our goal is for Florida to have a new congressional map passed by the Legislature, signed by the Governor, and upheld by the court if challenged,” the leaders said in a joint statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.