TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In the wake of an ongoing debate surrounding a congressional map backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida Supreme Court had decided not to block the map before the 2022 election.
This allows the DeSantis-drawn congressional map to stay in place for the midterms, without a hearing being held prior.
"At this time, this Court does not have jurisdiction over that matter. And it is speculative whether the First District’s eventual decision will provide an appropriate basis for this Court’s exercise of discretionary review— meaning that we cannot say that it is likely that there is any jurisdiction to protect," Justices Ricky Polston, Carlos Muniz, John Couriel and Jamie Grosshans wrote in the majority decision. "
"Assuming without deciding that this Court would have the authority in these circumstances to issue a constitutional writ, we decline to exercise such authority. All pending motions are denied and no motion for rehearing will be entertained," they added.
Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justice Alan Lawson recused themselves. Justice Jorge Labarga was the sole dissenting vote.
"Given this Court’s history of considering congressional redistricting cases, I cannot forecast that we will lack jurisdiction to review the district court’s merits decision," Labarga wrote. "At stake here is the mandate of 62.9% of Florida voters who voted in 2010 for one of what are commonly known as the Fair Districts Amendments to the Florida Constitution—by any measure of comparison, 62.9% of the vote is an overwhelming margin."
The DeSantis-backed map would likely boost the number of Florida seats held by Republicans. It could also make it difficult for Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson to maintain his seat in a north Florida district where nearly half the voters are Black. Another district that currently favors Black candidates is also redrawn in a way that the new map's critics suggest would make it more difficult for them to win.
"With today's ruling, the Florida Supreme Court has shown complete disregard for the Florida Constitution and the solemn oath they swore," Jasmine Burney-Clark, founder of Equal Ground, wrote in a statement. "Governor DeSantis’ proposed map is a blatantly unconstitutional attack on Black representation in Florida and a violation of the Fair Districts Amendment."
Clark went on to say the fight is not over and it won't be over until "Black voters are heard and given the equal representation they deserve..."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.