WASHINGTON – In the latest chapter in the state of
Florida’s redistricting saga, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) appealed her
redistricting case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The state’s legislature adopted new congressional, state House
and state Senate plans in 2012 using information gathered from the 2010 census,
federal and state legal requirements, citizen testimony, public feedback and
committee discussions. The district plans were designed to be implemented in
the 2012 general election and the 2014 special and general elections.
The approved congressional and Senate district maps
prompted several lawsuits, however. In December 2015, the Supreme Court of Florida and
the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court in Leon County ordered lawmakers to draft new
congressional and state Senate plans. A new plan for state Senate districts was
adopted, and, under court order, the state legislature randomly re-numbered the
districts included in the plan in January. In addition, the Florida Supreme
Court approved adoption of a plan for congressional districts.
Brown and several African-American voters in north and
central Florida challenged the redrawing of the state’s 5th Congressional
District into an east-west configuration, as opposed to its former north-south
orientation. In the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern
District of Florida, the plaintiffs alleged that the redrawn district dilutes
the ability of black voters to elect congressional representatives of their
choice and that District 5 was redrawn in order to discriminate against black
The court rejected Brown’s redistricting challenge in an
April 18 order, ruling that “the plaintiffs have not proven their case."
“The political voice
of African-Americans in the state of Florida is critically important and should
be heard by the highest court in the land,” Brown told the Florida Record.
Brown said she talked with her legal team and other legal
experts following the district court ruling and ultimately decided to appeal
the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I have an obligation to those constituents to take this
case to the U.S. Supreme Court because this district was created to give
residents – many of them African-Americans who have been historically
disenfranchised in the state of Florida – an opportunity to elect someone to
represent their concerns in the halls of the U.S. Capitol,” Brown said.
Plaintiffs opposing the senate’s 2012 plan claimed in court
documents that the plan “was drawn with systemic partisan intent in violation
of Article III, Section 21 of the Florida Constitution.” Specifically, the
challengers claimed that the legislature provided confidential drafts of the
plan to “Republican partisan operatives,” sought feedback and advice on the plan
from those partisan individuals, relied on partisan maps and deleted other
The congressional redistricting ruling was entered by the
Florida Supreme Court in response to an appeal filed by lead plaintiff The League
of Women Voters of Florida. Like the Senate map opposition, challengers of the
congressional district plans cited the partisan influence on the drafting of
the district maps.
The 2nd Circuit Court for Leon County’s plan for Senate districts includes 40 districts, with a population deviation of 9,002.
Meanwhile, the congressional plan submitted by the Florida Supreme Court
includes 27 districts with a population deviation of one.
“This case is about the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the
voting rights of the constituents in the district I represent,” Brown said. “The
boundaries of this district were drawn by federal judges with the goal of
establishing a level of fairness to the minority communities in Florida who had
no previous voice in Washington.”