The Steal that Wasn't Stopped
DeSantis drew an illegal, discriminatory map. And the corrupt Florida Supreme Court rubberstamped it.
In April 2022, Florida Democrats shut down a special legislative session for more than an hour to protest a new, racially gerrymandered Congressional map that, in a highly unusual move, the Florida GOP had allowed Governor Ron DeSantis to personally oversee.
As NBC News’ Maura Barrett reported:
From Black lawmakers’ perspective, this redistricting is going to strip representation from the Black community here in Florida and they’re worried about how much progress that takes away from the voting rights that they’ve been pushing for the last 10 years here.
In short, DeSantis was declaring war on Black voters in Florida.
The DeSantis map violated the Florida Constitution
In May 2022, Florida circuit court judge Layne Smith blocked the use of the new congressional map, which had been challenged by advocacy groups precisely because it “dismantled a Black-held congressional seat in northern Florida, spreading Democratic voters across several Republican districts.”
Judge Smith—a Ron DeSantis appointee—wrote:
The enacted map is unconstitutional under the Fair District amendment. It diminishes African-Americans’ ability to elect the representative of their choice.
In June, Smith’s ruling was overturned on appeal, but as Orlando Weekly reported: Because the injunction, “did not give a full explanation…. the plaintiffs ask(ed) the Supreme Court to place a stay on the appeals court’s ruling.”
As FiveThirtyEight reported, the new racially gerrymandered map was designed to:
Create four new Republican-leaning seats at the expense of three highly competitive ones. The new lines make it very likely that Republicans will flip the Democratic-held 5th, 7th and 13th districts as well as gain a new member in the 15th District, which was added to the state’s tally by the 2020 census.
According to FiveThirtyEight, the map increased the efficiency gap—the difference between each party’s share of “wasted votes” that don’t contribute to a candidate winning—from R+5.4 to R+20.
Why did Ron DeSantis think he could get away with a crime so brazen?
The answer’s simple: Because the Florida Supreme Court is a fully corrupted, Federalist Society-approved arm of the Florida GOP.
DeSantis knew he could violate the Constitution, declare war on Black voters in Florida and—in the national battle for control of the House of Representatives—put a heavy thumb on the scale in Republicans’ favor.
In June 2022, the Florida Supreme Court did DeSantis’ bidding: it refused to hear the appeal, leaving the Governor’s illegally gerrymandered map in place.
“WTF?!” you ask. “When did such illegality become legal in Florida?”
According to the website Balls and Strikes, the Florida Supreme Court used be relatively liberal.
But things changed after Jeb Bush “tweaked” the selection process in 2001:
Now, the governor directly appoints five commissioners, and chooses four more from a list submitted by the Florida Bar. The Bar’s involvement in this process is largely symbolic, however, as the governor can and does reject Bar lists as many times as they want.
Under Ron DeSantis, the court is now completely filled with partisan hacks:
In 2018, the last three liberals reached mandatory retirement age and, after his narrow 2018 victory, Governor DeSantis appointed three more Federalist Society-affiliated justices. Those three, and another in 2022, came from lists given by a nominating commission where at least five out of nine members are affiliated with FedSoc. Much has been written about the quiet influence of the organization in the federal judiciary, but in Florida, they dominate in the open for all to see.
In other words, the court that ruled in favor of the DeSantis plan to cheat in the 2022 midterms is:
A hyperpartisan entity stuffed with justices no different than the Republican governors who appointed them.
Beyond gerrymandering, DeSantis spent much of 2022 targeting Black voters in Florida with new laws and state-run intimidation designed to make it harder for many Black citizens to vote—and to cause the kind of confusion and fear he hoped would significantly suppress Black turnout.
DeSantis’ racism wasn’t even subtle.
While innocent Black people were getting arrested and humiliated for “voter fraud,” white MAGA Republicans caught committing actual voter fraud were given mere slaps on the wrist.
Gerrymandering is, of course, something both sides do
But not to equal effect.
Since the 2010 census, the GOP has perfected the art of ratfucking American democracy to gain an unfair advantage in both the House of Representatives and many state legislatures.
Example: In Wisconsin this year, Democrats barely managed to prevent the GOP winning a Supermajorities in the State assembly despite the fact that they maintained a 50-50 status in statewide elections, which saw Democratic Governor Tony Evers re-elected and Mandela Barnes securing 49.4% of the vote in a narrow loss to incumbent GOP Senator “Russian Ron” Johnson.
Both sides don’t get away with it like DeSantis did
In New York, the state Supreme Court threw out a map drawn by Democrats earlier this year precisely because its district boundaries were unconstitutionally gerrymandered.
According to FiveThirtyEight, the new New York map that was used in the midterms was equally fair to both sides: To account for New York’s census-driven loss of a Congressional seat, the new map replaced two seats—one Democratic-leaning and one Republican-leaning—with one new seat designed to be highly competive.
New York came into the midterms with a level playing field. Florida didn’t.
But the worst part of this whole story:
Without Florida’s illegal map, the GOP would still be in the minority
With votes still being counted in several races, it’s possible Democrats could pull off a “miracle,” but the current projection shows that the GOP is likely to gain a slim majority because of the Florida Supreme Court’s decision to rubber-stamp an unconstitutional congressional map drawn by Governor Ron DeSantis to intentionally discriminate against Black Floridians.
Those four seats the GOP picked up in Florida likely made the difference.
In a 218-217 world, the seat DeSantis specifically stole from Black voters in Florida’s former 5th district will have made all the difference.
DeSantis said recently that “Florida is where ‘woke’ comes to die.”
This year, thanks to DeSantis and the Florida Supreme Court, it was also where democracy got murdered.
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