Common Cause v. Byrd

Voting Rights

Case Summary

Formerly Common Cause v. Lee
Filed 03/11/2022
Updated 06/07/2024

Southern Coalition for Social Justice and co-counsel from Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP filed a federal challenge to the 2022 Florida congressional map in March 2022 on behalf of two non-profits (Common Cause Florida and FairDistricts Now) and five voters (Dorothy Inman-Johnson, Brenda Holt, Leo R. Stoney, Myrna Young, and Nancy Ratzan). In their complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, plaintiffs alleged that the Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis engaged in intentional racial discrimination in violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution in crafting the state’s current congressional map, which destroys a Black opportunity district in northern Florida.

After a four-day bench trial in October 2023, the trial court ruled in favor of defendants by holding that the intent of Governor DeSantis was irrelevant to whether the congressional map was enacted with discriminatory intent. Plaintiffs filed a motion to reconsider this decision because Governor DeSantis is a state actor exercising legislative authority, and thus his discriminatory intent of drafting a map that destroyed a Black opportunity district in northern Florida rendered the congressional map unconstitutional. The motion to reconsider remains under consideration with the trial court.

Why it's Important

The 2022 Florida Congressional Map discriminatorily diminishes the ability of Black voters to elect candidates of their choice in Congressional districts centered around a Jacksonville-to-Tallahassee strip, and another in the Orlando area.

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