A federal judge has determined that Florida's congressional redistricting by Republicans is unconstitutional and that it disenfranchises Black voters in particular.
A Florida redistricting plan pushed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis violates the state constitution and is prohibited from being used for any future U.S. congressional elections since it diminishes the ability of Black voters in north Florida to pick a representative of their choice, a state judge ruled Saturday.
Circuit Judge J. Lee Marsh sent the plan back to the Florida Legislature with instructions that lawmakers should draw a new congressional map that complies with the Florida Constitution.
The voting rights groups that challenged the plan in court "have shown that the enacted plan results in the diminishment of Black voters' ability to elect their candidate of choice in violation of the Florida Constitution," Marsh wrote.
The decision was the latest to strike down new congressional maps in Southern states over concerns that they diluted Black voting power.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Republican-drawn map in Alabama, with two conservative justices joining liberals in rejecting the effort to weaken a landmark voting rights law. Not long after that, the Supreme Court lifted its hold on a Louisiana political remap case, increasing the likelihood that the Republican-dominated state will have to redraw boundary lines to create a second mostly Black congressional district.
In each of the cases, Republicans have either appealed or vowed to appeal the decisions since they could benefit Democratic congressional candidates facing 2024 races under redrawn maps. The Florida case likely will end up before the Florida Supreme Court.
Anyone who has been paying attention to these states knows what I'm going to be asking next:
What difference does it make?
Ohio Republicans already ran out the clock once on redistricting after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled against their redistricting plan multiple times, and the right-wing Trumpists on the federal courts basically ruled that flawed or not, Ohio had to use those unconstitutional districts or else risk disenfranchising the entire state without representation, and Republicans in the Buckeye State have made no efforts to fix the problem since.
Ohio Republicans are so corrupt that former state House GOP Speaker Larry Householder was convicted on bribery charges and sentenced to 20 years in prison, where he's serving out his sentence in a low-security federal prison in Elkton, Ohio.
There's a plan to get yet another redistricting amendment on the state ballot in 2024 that would abolish all lobbyists and politicians from the commission that would handle the new process, but even if that passes, there's no reason to believe the process would be fixed for 2026.
In Alabama, Republicans in the state legislature are openly ignoring a Supreme Court order to redraw the lines and are almost certainly going to get away with it.
Although Justice Brett Kavanaugh provided the fifth vote against Alabama’s maps in Milligan, he also wrote a brief and cryptic concurring opinion that seemed to suggest that the results test must have a sunset date. “Even if Congress in 1982 could constitutionally authorize race-based redistricting under §2 for some period of time,” Kavanaugh wrote, “the authority to conduct race-based redistricting cannot extend indefinitely into the future.”
The Alabama GOP’s open defiance of the Court’s decision in Milligan suggests that it thinks it has a real shot of picking up Kavanaugh’s vote if this case goes up to the Supreme Court a second time. And this Court has shown such hostility toward the Voting Rights Act in the past that there is a decent chance that Alabama’s second attempt to gerrymander the state could prevail.
Wisconsin's GOP gerrymander is so bad that Republicans there are planning to fire the head of the state's non-partisan redistricting commission and then impeach the liberal state supreme court justice elected earlier this year, leaving the court deadlocked at 3-3 with no way forward and no way to continue with redistricting.
With a new supermajority, Republicans in the state Senate are moving to fire Meagan Wolfe, the administrator of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission who continues to be the target of false conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.
Democrats say Republicans don’t have the power to remove Wolfe. Their battle could land in state courts – where the GOP is considering an unprecedented power grab and further partisan battles are brewing.
Just months after liberal Justice Janet Protasiewicz won a 10-year Wisconsin Supreme Court term in a race that focused largely on abortion rights and gerrymandering, handing liberals a 4-3 majority on the bench after 15 years of conservative control, state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and other influential Republicans have floated the prospect of impeaching Protasiewicz. It would be a move that has only happened once in Wisconsin history – in 1853, when the Assembly voted to impeach a state judge accused of corruption, who was later acquitted by the Senate.
Further complicating the situation: Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, a Republican, has said the chamber would not consider acting on Protasiewicz. If the Assembly votes to impeach the justice and the Senate were to convict and remove her from office, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers would appoint her replacement. But if the Senate takes no action at all, she would be suspended from all official duties – leaving the court deadlocked, 3-3.
Canon described that potential course of action as “an even more diabolical twist.”
“This is actually a more potent tool to dismantle the liberal majority by having an impeachment vote in the Assembly, which is just a majority vote, and then having the Senate do nothing. She basically is removed from office and can’t rule on any cases,” he said.
Meanwhile, the justices themselves are ensnared in a bitter, public feud – playing out before Protasiewicz has even ruled on a case. The conservative chief justice, Annette Ziegler, accused the liberal majority of a “coup” after the court’s four liberal members voted to weaken the chief justice’s powers and fire the conservative director of state courts.
Wisconsin is so gerrymandered that Republicans have a two-thirds supermajority in the state House and Senate while only getting 51% of the vote in November 2020, and it only got worse in 2022.
There's no reason whatsoever to believe Florida Republicans won't get away with this in 2024 and beyond.