State of Florida

Florida Congressional Redistricting Challenge (Black Voters Matter)

Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute v. Byrd

Lawsuit filed on behalf of Black Voters Matter, Equal Ground Education Fund, League of Women Voters of Florida, Florida Rising Together and individual voters challenging Florida’s new congressional map for violating the Florida Constitution. The map, drawn by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), was adopted by the Florida Legislature during a special session after DeSantis vetoed previous districts passed by the Legislature. The plaintiffs allege that DeSantis’ map violates multiple provisions of the Fair Districts Amendment of the Florida Constitution by diminishing the ability of Black Floridians to elect their candidates of choice, particularly in northern Florida and the 5th Congressional District, and intentionally favoring the Republican Party at the expense of the Democratic Party. The lawsuit asks the court to block DeSantis’ map and order the creation of a new map that complies with the Fair Districts Amendment. A preliminary injunction hearing is scheduled for May 11 and can be viewed here.

During the hearing, the judge blocked the map after finding that it likely violates the Fair Districts Amendment “because it diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect candidates of their choice” in northern Florida. The Florida secretary of state immediately appealed this decision, which automatically stayed (meaning paused) the trial court’s order blocking the map. The trial court judge then vacated the stay during the appeal, meaning that DeSantis’ map was re-blocked. Then, the appellate court reinstated the automatic stay of the trial court’s order, thereby putting DeSantis’ map back in place while the appeal is being litigated. The plaintiffs petitioned the Florida Supreme Court asking it to step into the litigation, which it denied. In May 2022, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s temporary injunction blocking the map. In summary, after some back and forth between courts, DeSantis’ map is currently in effect for future elections. Litigation is ongoing before the trial court.

On July 22, the trial court granted the individual legislators’ motion to dismiss, meaning that the plaintiffs’ claims against them will not proceed. The claims against the the Florida House of Representatives and Senate, as well as the secretary of state, are still before the trial court.

On Oct. 27, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed two of their claims pertaining to geographic compactness and political and geographic boundary splits outlined in the Florida Constitution. The plaintiffs’ other claims regarding how the DeSantis’ map diminishes the ability of Black Floridians to elect their candidates of choice are still before the court.

On Aug. 11, 2023, the plaintiffs entered an agreement with the defendants and voluntarily dismissed their partisan gerrymandering claims along with their claims regarding the diminishment of Black voting power in central Florida and the Tampa Bay area. In turn, the only outstanding claim pertains to the inability of Black voters to elect their candidate of choice in North Florida. Litigation is ongoing and oral argument over the remaining claim will be held on Aug. 24.

On Sept. 2, the court struck down the map for violating the Florida Constitution by diminishing Black voting power in northern Florida. The defendants appealed this decision, which will be heard before the en banc 1st District Court of Appeal. The court will hear oral argument on Oct. 31, 2023. On Dec. 1, the 1st District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision. The plaintiffs appealed this decision to the Florida Supreme Court. On Jan. 24, 2024, the state Supreme Court agreed to review the case.

Case Documents (trial court)

Case Documents (appellate Court)

Case Documents (FL supreme court)

Last updated: