WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, May 23, a federal judge temporarily blocked Miami, Florida’s city commission map from being used in the upcoming November 2023 elections, ruling that it is likely an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.
In December 2022, three Florida branches of the NAACP, Miami community groups and Miami voters challenged the city commission districts, specifically arguing that race was used as the predominant factor in creating the city commission districts without a compelling state interest. In other words, the plaintiffs alleged that the map was a racial gerrymander in violation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and asked the court to block the city from holding elections under the plan.
In his order, district Judge K. Michael Moore agreed with the plaintiffs, temporarily blocking the map and ordering the parties to “discuss a potential timeline to create and implement a constitutionally conforming remedial map.”
Based on detailed findings from Magistrate Judge Lauren Louis, Judge Moore found that race was the predominant factor used to draw each of the five Miami commission districts. The city argued that the commission had a compelling state interest to draw one of the districts in a certain way to comply with the Voting Rights Act (VRA). However, the judge rejected that argument, finding that the district was “not narrowly tailored” to comply with the VRA.
Finally, the court found that the voters and community group plaintiffs “will likely suffer irreparable harm should they be required to vote in racially gerrymandered districts in the November 2023 election” and that there is sufficient time to redraw a new map before then.