The legal fight over Florida’s drawing of its 27 Congressional districts is not quite over yet. An attorney for U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, argued in federal court Friday that the districts that the Florida Supreme Court ordered the state to enact late last year violate the federal Voting Rights Act. William Sheppard said the state is diluting the voting power of minority communities that were previously in Brown’s Congressional district by allowing the maps to go into effect in the November elections. Sheppard is asking the court for an injunction to stop the 2016 elections for Congress with the newly redrawn 5th Congressional district, which runs from Jacksonville west to Tallahassee. Sheppard wants the court to continue to allow Brown to run in the current 5th Congressional District. That district currently runs from Jacksonville and meanders 140 miles south to Orlando.
Sheppard argued that the black neighborhoods incorporated in the previous district are communities of interest that, if split up, would deprive black voters of the right to elect candidates of their choosing. Voters in that old district have been split into six other congressional districts under the new plan He said after decades of progress of improving voting opportunities for black voters under the Voting Rights Act, the new districts could reverse that. “We’ve undone everything that has been undone,” Sheppard said.
Brown, first elected to Congress in 1992, was more blunt, declaring in a press conference after the hearing that the new maps looks like a “perfect storm to get rid of Corrine Brown.”
Her comments came days after the U.S. House Ethics Committee announced it had opened an investigation into Brown over allegations that she engaged in improper conduct by possibly conspiring with others in connection with fraudulent activity and improper solicitation of charitable donations, among other charges.