DeSantis Vows to Veto New Congressional Maps Approved by Florida Legislature

By Naveen Athrappully
Naveen Athrappully
Naveen Athrappully
Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events at The Epoch Times.
March 5, 2022 Updated: March 6, 2022

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has said that he won’t approve a new set of congressional districting maps approved by the Florida Legislature. The announcement comes just days before the current session of the legislature is scheduled to end.

“I will veto the congressional reapportionment plan currently being debated by the House. DOA,” DeSantis wrote on Twitter. The state’s House and Senate each voted in favor of the new congressional maps on March 4, by 67–47  in the House and 24–15 in the Senate, with some Republican support.

At present, Republicans have 16 congressional seats and Democrats have 11. Florida has picked up an additional congressional seat because of population growth, bringing the total number of seats to 28.

DeSantis had earlier proposed a map that would create 20 Republican districts and eight Democratic districts. In comparison, the latest map approved by the House and Senate will create 18 red (GOP) districts and 10 blue ones.

The Senate had approved a map in January that would retain the GOP’s 16 congressional seats. However, DeSantis asked the state Supreme Court to determine whether black Rep. Al Lawson’s (D-Fla.) district, which combines the two black neighborhoods of Jacksonville and Tallahassee, was constitutional. After the court declined DeSantis’s request, the governor made it clear that he would veto any map that retained Lawson’s seat.

The newly approved map released by the House removed Lawson’s seat and replaced it with a seat in Jacksonville that Republicans say will guarantee that a black candidate is elected. The legislation also includes a second map that retains Lawson’s seat in case a court strikes down the first proposed map.

Although some Republican members have called the legislature-approved map constitutional, DeSantis said he’ll continue to be against it because of legal concerns.

“I don’t bluff. What makes you think when I say I’m going to do something that I’m not going to follow through?” he said at a press conference. “I don’t make declarations lightly.”

The Florida governor said he won’t be signing any congressional map that has an “unconstitutional gerrymander” in it. Gerrymandering involves manipulating the boundaries of an electoral constituency to favor a specific class or party. Ryan Newman, DeSantis’ attorney, has called Lawson’s congressional district an “illegal gerrymander.”

Lawson slammed the new map, calling it unconstitutional and saying that it violated the Fair Districts provision of the Florida Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The maps dilute the voting power of minority communities, diminishing the ability of African Americans to choose a representative they want, he said.

“The primary map adopted today by the Florida Legislature was drawn with the clear intent to create additional seats for one political party at the expense of Black voters,” Lawson said in a statement.

Carey Baker, a former Republican state Senator, called DeSantis’s congressional map, “both fair and constitutional.” Speaking to Breitbart, Baker pointed out that the current state map was drawn by Democrats and adopted by a liberal court.

“There are easily 100 different ways to draw a constitutional redistricting map. I hope the legislature takes into count the Governor’s concern,” Baker said.

Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events at The Epoch Times.