TALLAHASSEE, Fla. ( Associated Press) – In a rare disagreement with Republican-dominated lawmakers, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday vetoed the state’s newly signed congressional cards, and lawmakers will hold a special session in April to sign them.
The veto puts more pressure on the Republican-dominated legislature to approve a card and resolve any resulting lawsuits before the June 13 to 17 qualifying period for federal candidates. Florida is also creating a new 28th district due to population growth.
“In their, I think, understandable zeal to try to comply with what they believe the Florida Constitution requires, they forgot to make sure what they do comply with the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” DeSantis said at a news conference said.
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In 2010, voters approved a constitutional amendment aimed at preventing harassment. DeSantis argues that a later U.S. Supreme Court ruling ruled that districts could not be drawn with race as the primary factor. The governor’s card is likely to lead to two Black members of Congress losing their seats: Democratic U.S. Representatives Al Lawson and Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick.
The Senate card largely left those two districts intact. The House approved two cards, a primary card to appease the governor who dismantled Lawson’s district, but would have created a Black Plurality district in Jacksonville. The secondary map largely preserved both districts’ districts.
The Florida Constitution states that political maps must be drawn in a way that does not benefit or hurt a candidate or party, that districts must be compact, and that the ability of minorities to elect members to Congress must not be diminished. .
DeSantis’ proposal would also likely give Republicans more Florida seats than the House and Senate-approved cards. It would benefit DeSantis, a potential presidential candidate in 2024, if he were elected to the White House.
DeSantis has intervened in the once-a-decade process of drawing new political lines following the federal census by submitting its own map. The Senate did not consider the governor’s card, and the House approved two cards, a primary card to try to appease DeSantis and a second in case the first card is found unconstitutional.
“From the beginning of the redistribution process, DeSantis forced his desired card on House and Senate leadership, leading to a ridiculous two-card legislative submission that cowardly tried to appease his racist political agenda,” Kelly Skidmore said. Democratic state representative, said. in a news release.
While the House was debating the bill, DeSantis used Twitter to say the plan was “DOA.”
Lawson predicted that the DeSantis card would not hold in court.
“DeSantis has made it clear that its ultimate goal was to reduce the number of African Americans and Hispanics serving in Congress,” Lawson said in a news release. “The fact that DeSantis justifies its goal of creating racial inequalities in congressional representation by citing the constitutional amendment created after the Civil War with the aim of redressing those same inequalities is absurd.”
Wilton Simpson, president of the Republican Senate, and Chris Sprowls, speaker of the Republican House, told lawmakers to return to the Capitol on April 19-22.
“Our goal is for Florida to have a new congressional card passed by the Legislature, signed by the Governor, and upheld by the court if challenged,” the leaders said in a joint statement.
At the news conference, DeSantis said, “We’re not going to let it go to court.”