TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis submitted a letter to the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday regarding a United States Congressional District in the state.
The governor submitted the letter to the court about U.S. Congressional District 5.
District 5 is made up of Gadsden, Madison, Hamilton and Baker counties, and portions of Leon, Jefferson, Columbia and Duval counties.
In the letter, DeSantis, a Republican, requests the court’s opinion on whether if 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.”
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 letter notes combined, the populations of the two cities are 82.77 percent of the district’s entire population.
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 state population.
Rep. Al Lawson, Jr., a Democrat, is the current representative of District 5.
Lawson provided a statement in response to DeSantis' letter Tuesday evening:
“While disappointing, Ron DeSantis’s continued assault on the rights of Black and minority voters is not a surprise. I hope that the Florida Supreme Court chooses to respect our separation of powers, rises above politics, and avoids wading into this partisan dispute.
“The Voting Rights Act of 1965 sought to protect the right to vote for minority communities. Ron DeSantis’s effort to disenfranchise every minority voter north of Orlando is an act that will not go without a fight.
“Congressional redistricting is mandated by the U.S. Constitution and entrusted to the state’s legislative branch. The Governor’s role in redistricting is limited to the veto of the final map; however, his request seeks advice on how it must be drawn. The Governor seeks to push aside the Florida Legislature and highjack this constitutional process for his own political goals.”
DeSantis requests an opinion from the court as soon as possible and notes March 11 is the end of the Florida legislative session.
The letter adds the March 11 date also would give candidates time to qualify under a new map by June.