The disputed congressional district lines in Florida, which aided the Republican Party in securing the U.S. House, may remain unchanged for the 2024 elections, as the state’s highest court indicated that a decision on a lawsuit challenging the current districts could take months.
Advocates for the Republican-controlled Legislature and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to uphold an appeals court decision that affirmed a map that deconstructed the seat occupied by former Democratic Representative Al Lawson.
This map contributed to the Republicans securing a net gain of four seats in the 2022 election cycle. This map was compelled by DeSantis to become law.
Wednesday, the high court unanimously declared in a two-page decision that it would grant recognition to the legal challenge.
However, given the court’s proposed schedule, it is exceedingly unlikely that the justices will issue a decision prior to the commencement of congressional qualifying in late April.
Conversely, the schedule indicated that the court might entertain legal arguments regarding the case until the latter part of May, and that it might also convene a hearing at a later time.
The parties who initiated the lawsuit had been striving to avert this particular situation.
Voting rights and civil rights organizations that were engaged in a litigation regarding the map amended their position last summer, agreeing with the DeSantis administration and the Legislature to restrict the lawsuit’s scope to Lawson’s seat.
A circuit court judge subsequently ruled that the map violated the Florida Constitution and ordered the legislature to redraw it.
Both parties agreed to expedite any appeal prior to the ruling in the expectation that the state Supreme Court would resolve the case before the legislative session of this year.
Population growth caused Florida to gain one congressional seat in 2022, bringing the total number of representatives from the state to 28.
Initially, it was expected that the formula passed by Republicans in the legislature would secure Republican control in sixteen of those seats.
However, that map was vetoed by DeSantis, who maintained that it was unconstitutional due to the preservation of a Jacksonville-based district in which Black electors would have continued to constitute a significant minority.
In accordance with DeSantis’ demands, Republican legislative leaders acquiesced to the current map’s passage, which led to the victory of the Republicans in 20 out of 28 congressional seats.