Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., filed a federal lawsuit Thursday challenging the validity of a proposed redraw of the state's congressional map , alleging the draft plan violates the Voting Rights Act.
Brown's lawsuit comes a day after the state legislature released a draft redistricting plan that completely changes her 5th District — a long, spindly seat that meanders from Jacksonville south to Orlando. The current iteration of the district initially sparked the court case that led the state Supreme Court to throw out the map last month.
"I believe categorically that the decision by the Florida Supreme Court to order a redraw of the state's congressional map is a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, since the newly configured maps clearly will bring about minority vote dilution and hamper the ability of the state's minority residents to elect a candidate of choice,” Brown said in a statement.
Under the new map, Brown's district would run from east to west along the northern border of the state. The redrawn district is still a minority-access seat, but it now adheres to the state's Fair Districts Amendment — a ballot initiative passed in 2010 that sought to fight gerrymandering.
Legal experts, however, do not expect Brown's federal lawsuit to hold up implementation of the new map for 2016, if the plan is ultimately approved by the state legislature and signed off on by a state court.
"Even if she's got a valid claim, the map would probably go forward first and then a court would have to sort out if it was valid or not," said Justin Levitt, a law professor and redistricting expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. "It’s conceivable a court could strike down an invalid map before 2016, but it’s unlikely."
The draft plan released Wednesday likely benefits Democrats, who could be poised to gain one seat if the draft is approved.
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