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DeSantis Administration To Appeal Congressional Redistricting Ruling

Judge J. Lee Marsh said no race-based gerrymandering occurred for the old congressional district, which served as the State’s justification for redrawing the map.

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Leon County Circuit Judge Judge J. Lee Marsh ruled on September 2 against the State of Florida and its redistricting efforts of Congressional District 5, effected in 2022.

Judge Marsh determined in the ruling that the State failed to adequately prove that the old District 5 – before redrawing – was gerrymandered along racial lines.

“The Court finds that Defendants have not satisfied their burden in this case,” Judge Marsh said in his ruling.

“Not only is there no specific district under which this Court could evaluate whether racial gerrymandering occurred, but Defendants also lack standing to raise a racial gerrymandering challenge in the first place,” he wrote.

The judge ordered that the district be redrawn by the Florida Legislature.

However, the DeSantis administration will appeal the ruling:

“We disagree with the trial court’s decision,” Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd told  Florida Politics – adding that he will be pursuing an appeal with pass through jurisdiction to the Florida Supreme Court.


Judge Marsh’s ruling reviewed the redrawn districts of North Florida, where he asserted that the “plaintiffs have shown that the Enacted Plan results in the diminishment of Black voters’ ability to elect their candidate of choice in violation of the Florida Constitution.”

The old Congressional District 5, which was redrawn by the Legislature upon request by the DeSantis administration, was previously represented by former Congressman Al Lawson – a Democrat.

Judge Marsh stated in the ruling that the new districts enacted were now “majority white” in voter registration.

The new congressional districts of North Florida split Tallahassee and Jacksonville communities apart compared to the old maps. 


The old Congressional District 5 meandered its way from Tallahassee’s majority-black southside, across rural North Florida, to include Jacksonville’s majority-black northside. 

Florida’s old Congressional District 5 was notable in that it preserved a historic majority-black voting bloc with traces to the Reconstruction Era.

“By dismantling a congressional district that enabled Black voters to elect their candidates of choice under the previous plan, the Enacted Plan violates Article III, Section 20(a) of the Florida Constitution,” Judge Marsh stated.

The judge was appointed to his current post by then-Governor Rick Scott in 2018.