Background Briefing – Florida Congressional Districts Federal Litigation

Florida Congressional Districts Challenge in Federal Court 

Motion to Amend

Proposed first amendment complaint

Response to order to show cause

Background Brief

Back in March when it looked like the Governor and the Legislature were unlikely to agree on a congressional map, FairDistricts Now and Common Cause filed a case in federal court (Tallahassee) asking the court to adopt a map if the legislature and the governor could not agree.

Subsequently, lawmakers returned to Tallahassee for a special session and complied with Governor DeSantis’ demands by producing a congressional map that egregiously slashes opportunity districts for Black voters to elect representatives of their choice from 4 to 2.  As a result of the passage and signing of this map, the original complaint filed in federal court became moot, and there was no need for the hearing to select a map that had been previously scheduled for 5/12.  Accordingly, the Court canceled the hearing.

FairDistricts Now, Common Cause and Florida NAACP and five individual plaintiffs have since asked the three judge panel in the original federal court case (Judges Adalberto Jordan, Casey Rodgers and Alan Winsor) to allow the plaintiffs to amend their complaint and convert the lawsuit into a challenge of the map that the Legislature passed and the Governor signed.  The challenge, as detailed in the proposed amended complaint, is based on violations of the 14th and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution — in essence claiming that the Governor and the Legislature acted intentionally to discriminate against Black voters — to stifle their voices and eliminate their political clout. Defendants named in the proposed amended complaint are Secretary of State Laurel Lee and Governor Ron DeSantis.

If the court does not give plaintiffs leave to amend, they will file a new case.

The plaintiffs in the federal case hope there will be a new map for 2024 that would remedy the intentional discrimination against Black voters that infected the enacted map.

Current Status 

  • The motion to amend the original complaint was filed on Friday, April 29;
  • The defendants are scheduled to file their response with the court by Monday, May 9;
  • If the court decides that the challenge to the enacted map does not belong in the original case, plaintiffs will simply file a new case.