Plaintiffs ask court to reject Jacksonville redistricting map

Published on November 18, 2022 at 5:37 pm

The Jacksonville City Council failed to fix the problems with its original redistricting plan, plaintiffs argued Friday in a court filing a sking a federal judge to reject the city’s second attempt at drawing new district lines.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard struck the city’s council and Duval County’s School Board district maps as racial gerrymanders, finding the City Council had segregated voters on the basis of race.

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The city got the first chance at drawing a new plan, submitting one last week to the court while its attempts to halt the court order failed.

The court must give deference to the city’s plan, but Howard could still reject it.

The plaintiffs argued the city barely made changes to the seven districts struck down by Howard.

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“Under Ordinance 2022-800, 89% of those four [Black-majority] districts’ residents remain there,” the order said. “Meanwhile, Districts 2, 12, and 14 (‘Stripped Districts’) feature high core-retention rates, meaning they are largely unchanged.”

The plaintiffs’ filing continued, “The Council had the opportunity and obligation to do better. It was required to abandon the race-based choices underlying the Enjoined Plan. It failed to do so. Instead, councilmembers focused their energy on protecting themselves and retaining the cores of the Enjoined Plan’s districts. They started with a proposal that ‘pretty much maintain[ed] a lot of what [they] like[d] about the original map,’ and then made adjustments to backslide even more.”

The city has 10 days to reply to the plaintiff’s filing. The court will hold a status hearing on Monday to discuss whether it needs an evidentiary hearing to decide on a remedial map.

Plaintiffs submitted their own maps, arguing the city’s new redistricting plan still violates the law, using terms like “rural” and “urban” as proxies for race. They submitted three of their own proposals for the court. The first two maps were drawn with communities of interest in mind, the plaintiffs said, while the third tries to make slight changes to the city’s approved plan.

“While the Council’s map does not remedy the violations the Court identified, Plaintiffs present several maps that do,” the plaintiffs’ filing said. “Those maps also comply with all other legal requirements and honor the Council’s legitimate policy choices.”

This story is published through a partnership between Jacksonville Today and The Tributary

author image Andrew Pantazi edits and reports for The Tributary. He previously worked as a reporter at The Florida Times-Union.
author image Andrew Pantazi edits and reports for The Tributary. He previously worked as a reporter at The Florida Times-Union.