Federal Judges Reject Bid To Throw Out FL Congressional Map

Apr 19, 2016

Credit Ebyabe via wikimedia commons

It appears likely Florida’s congressional elections will proceed with the map the state Supreme Court approved late last year.  A three judge federal appeals panel rejected a challenge from Jacksonville Democrat Corinne Brown.

State election officials are likely breathing a sigh of relief after a panel of federal judges decided to uphold Florida’s current congressional map.  The state supreme court approved the boundaries last December.  But Congresswoman Corrine Brown was unhappy with changes to her district and decided to mount a challenge.  Her case alleged the new District Five violates The Voting Rights Act by diluting minority voting power and it was intentionally drawn to discriminate against African Americans.  Brown suggests the prevalence of prisons in the district artificially inflates black voting age population numbers.  But attorney David King, representing The League of Women Voters, says prisoners are beside the point because they weren’t included in recent election data submitted as evidence.

“None of the prisoners were voting in any of those elections,” King explained after the March hearing, “and both of the experts concluded that the African American preferred candidate would prevail in new east west district five”

The ruling could lead to even more ferment in an already unstable political season.  With new maps for the state Senate and Congress, lawmakers and aspirants are engaging in a statewide game of musical chairs. 

The next big question is what happens with Congresswoman Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee) who currently represents District Two.  In a statement Graham expresses “disappointment” that her district will, “be transformed from a fair, moderate district into two extreme partisan districts.”  She hasn’t ruled out a reelection bid, but she hasn’t announced plans to run again either. 

And this may not be the last of Congresswoman Brown’s legal challenges.  In addition to a potential Supreme Court appeal over Florida’s maps, she’s also facing an ethics investigation.  But surrounded by supporters at a Tallahassee buffet restaurant in March she was defiant.

“My constituents—they’re here, and you can ask them anything you want to ask them,” Brown said, “but rest assured they don’t have any questions for me, because they know me.”

“And they support me.”

Brown plans on running for reelection.