JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The congressional map pushed by Governor Ron DeSantis is back in play after a state appellate court reversed a lower court’s decision Friday.
The decision means North Florida’s Black voters are less likely to see the return of the minority access district that once gave them the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice before the 2024 election.
The 31-page ruling is technical in nature, but the basic premise boils down to the assertion Black voting population alone isn’t enough to grant special protections to a district.
Initially, a trial court struck down portions of Florida’s congressional map for violating the rights of Black voters by dismantling CD 5, the minority access district that once spanned from Tallahassee to Jacksonville’s urban core.
The 1st District Court of Appeal reversed that decision, putting back in place the map pushed by Governor Ron DeSantis.
That map, supplants the areas once contained within CD 5 into three majority Republican districts.
“Just complete, still disappointment,” said State Senator Tracie Davis (D-Jacksonville).
Davis said despite the unfavorable ruling, she’s not giving up hope North Florida’s minority access district could return.
“We cannot just sit back and allow this to continue to happen to Black voters in Jacksonville, but we must stay engaged. This process is very long. We’re gonna stay on this long journey and the federal case has not been decided. So, we still have a long way to go,” said Davis.
But UNF political science Professor Dr. Michael Binder noted with candidate qualifying just around the corner in April, the likelihood the federal courts or the Florida Supreme Court restore the old CD 5 in time for the 2024 election is slim.
“It’s possible. Again, I think unlikely. I think if you were gearing up to run for Congress this year, the district that you have is probably the district that you’re going to end up with,” said Binder.
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If either court does issue a ruling in time, the outcome could not only determine whether we’ll see a return of Florida’s Black-performing Congressional district, but also the balance of power in the US House.