On February 1, 2022 Florida's Governor sent a letter to the Florida Supreme Court requesting an advisory opinion interpreting the "non-diminishment" standard under article III, § 20(a) of the Florida Constitution and the scope of its application to Florida's 5th Congressional District. Governor DeSantis asked whether article III, § 20(a), which provides that districts "shall not be drawn" with the intent or result of "diminish[ing] [racial or language minorities'] ability to elect representatives of their choice," mandates the creation of the state's 5th Congressional District in its then-current or a substantially similar configuration. District 5, which then stretched hundreds of miles from East to West and connected black voters in Jacksonville to black voters in Gadsden and Leon Counties, was put into place by the Florida Supreme Court in a 2015 decision, but the Court did not specify what the Florida Constitution's non-diminishment standard did and did not require; it merely found the East to West configuration was not as bizarre as previous iterations and would not diminish the ability of black voters to elect a candidate of their choice. The Governor requested the Court now explain what precisely that standard did and did not require to inform his executive decisions on this decade's redistricting plans, including whether it protected the 5th District's East to West configuration despite the minority population in that district not constituting a majority therein.
On February 10, 2022 the Florida Supreme Court issued a per curiam opinion stating they would exercise their discretion to deny the requested advisory opinion. While noting the importance of the issues presented, the Court explained the constitutionality of any final redistricting bill would be inevitably reviewed through subsequent challenges in court, and an answer to the Governor's complex constitutional questions would likely require fact-intensive analyses of other congressional districts which were not available to the Court and would not be available until a final plan was enacted and before them.
Florida Supreme Court - No. SC22-139
- Letter Requesting Advisory Opinion - 2/1/22
- Order - 2/2/22
- Brief for the Attorney General - 2/7/22
- Florida Legislature's Jurisdictional Brief - 2/7/22
- Brief of Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida - 2/7/22
- Brief of Mayor Lenny Curry - 2/7/22
- Brief of Interested Persons Common Cause Florida and FairDistricts Now - 2/7/22
- Brief of All on the Line Florida - 2/7/22
- Interested Person Brief of Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Member of Congress, Florida Congressional District 20 - 2/7/22
- Opinion - 2/10/22