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Florida Supreme Court denies DeSantis' request for advisory opinion on FL District 5

Florida Supreme Court
Posted at 11:29 AM, Feb 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-10 19:06:12-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court denied Gov. DeSantis' request for an advisory opinion on Florida District 5.

The decision comes after Gov. DeSantis submitted a letter to the Florida Supreme Court on Feb. 1 regarding Florida's United States Congressional District 5.

In the letter, DeSantis, a Republican, requested the court’s opinion on whether an article of the Florida Constitution requires the retention of a district like District 5 that connects “the minority population in Jacksonville with distant and distinct minority populations (either in Leon and Gadsden Counties or outside of Orlando) to ensure sufficient voting strength, even if not a majority, to elect a candidate of their choice.”

District 5 is made up of Gadsden, Madison, Hamilton and Baker counties, and portions of Leon, Jefferson, Columbia and Duval counties.

The small portions of Leon County, which includes a section of Tallahassee, and Duval County, which includes a portion of Jacksonville, in the district are majority African American.

The initial letter noted that combined, the populations of the two cities are 82.77 percent of the district’s entire population.

Proposed US Congressional District 5 for 2022-30 election cycles
United States Congressional District 5 (Orange) is the proposed district for the upcoming 10-year cycle. following the United States Census in 2020.

The proposed District 5 mirrors the current District 5 that was approved after the 2010 United States Census.

Every 10 years after the Census, state legislators are tasked to redraw congressional districts to reflect changes in the state population.

The three-and-a-half-page decision came down nine days after Gov. DeSantis initially asked the court to respond. The court said the issue was too complicated to simply grant an advisory opinion.

"The scope of the Governor’s request is broad and contains multiple questions that implicate complex federal and state constitutional matters and precedents interpreting the Voting Rights Act of 1965," the Court wrote.

The Court also added that history has shown that the constitutionality of a final redistricting bill for all congressional districts will be subject to more judicial review through subsequent challenges in court.

"Moreover, the Governor’s request might necessitate fact-intensive analysis and consideration of other congressional districts, not just District 5", wrote the Court. "We have no record before us setting forth a functional analysis of statistical evidence, such as the voting age of minority populations and election results. A record will assist the judiciary in answering the complex federal and state constitutional issues implicated by the Governor’s request."

The Court wrote that no rehearings would be permitted on the matter.

Florida District 5's Congressman Al Lawson released the following statement in response to the ruling.

“Today, I commend the Florida Supreme Court for making the right decision. Ron DeSantis wanted the Supreme Court to violate the separation of powers and engage the judicial branch in partisan politics. They wisely and correctly rejected his request. Yes, Ron DeSantis lost today, but more importantly, democracy and the Constitution won."
Rep. Al Lawson, Jr.

Gov. DeSantis' Communications Director Taryn Fenske released the following statement in response to the ruling.

"While we were hopeful the Supreme Court would provide clarity to legal questions surrounding the maps that are under consideration, we agree with the Court’s opinion that there are important issues that must be addressed quickly. We look forward to working with the Legislature to finalize a new congressional map for the 2022 election."
Gov. DeSantis Communications Director Taryn Fenske

The full decision can be read by clicking here.