Lawsuit filed by the Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP, Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, American Civil Liberties Union of Florida Northeast Chapter, Florida Rising and 10 Black Jacksonville residents challenging Jacksonville, Florida’s city council districts and Duval County’s school board districts drawn with 2020 census data. The plaintiffs allege that in enacting the city council and school board redistricting plans, the Jacksonville City Council “impermissibly centered race above other considerations.” Specifically, the plaintiffs claim that the racially gerrymandered plan packs “Black residents into just four of the Challenged Districts—Districts 7, 8, 9, and 10,” while simultaneously stripping “Black voters from three adjacent districts—Districts 2, 12, and 14…ensuring that these districts had artificially high white populations.” As a result, “most of Jacksonville’s Black voters are segregated into just four of fourteen districts, depressing their influence over City Council elections elsewhere,” the complaint notes. In addition to challenging the city council districts, the plaintiffs assert that Duval County School Board Districts 4, 5 and 6 are racially gerrymandered.
The plaintiffs contend that the challenged districts are racial gerrymanders that violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, adding that the “Council’s use of race was not narrowly tailored to any compelling government interest.” Additionally, the complaint argues that the challenged districts violate the Jacksonville City Charter’s requirement that districts be geographically compact. The plaintiffs ask the court to declare the challenged districts unconstitutional and to stop Jacksonville from conducting elections under these districts.
On Oct. 12, 2022, the court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, holding that the plaintiffs “have made the requisite clear showing that they are substantially likely to succeed on the merits of their Equal Protection claim.” In doing so, the court blocked Jacksonville from using the challenged maps in any future elections following the November 2022 elections and required the defendants to enact an interim remedial plan for the city council and school board elections. The defendants appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and asked it to pause the decision, but the 11th Circuit declined to do so on Nov. 1, 2022. Then on Dec. 19, 2022, the trial court rejected the defendants’ proposed remedial plan and ordered the adoption of one of the plaintiffs’ proposed interim remedial plans (Plan 3) pending a final judgment in the lawsuit. The defendants once again appealed to the 11th Circuit, asking it to pause this decision, which it ultimately declined to do.
Then on March 31, 2023, the trial court granted the parties’ joint request to pause the case as the parties engaged in settlement deliberations. On May 9, 2023, the Jacksonville City Council voted 15-3 to approve a settlement agreement with the plaintiffs, which will require the plaintiffs’ proposed plan for the city council and Duval County School Board districts to be utilized for the next decade. According to the plaintiffs, the new maps are much fairer and more representative of Jacksonville’s Black population. On May 30, 2023, the trial court judge approved the settlement.
Case Documents (trial court)
Case Documents (11th circuit)