Voting rights groups launch digital ads on FL Supreme Court justices up for retention vote

The coalition is concerned about diminishing minority voting strength

By: - October 20, 2022 7:10 am

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposed congressional map. Source: FL House of Representatives March 2022

Five of the seven members of the Florida Supreme Court are up for a retention vote on Nov. 8, and a coalition of voting rights groups are launching digital ads to ensure voters know what’s been happening on the high court related to redistricting fights.

The “We Draw the Lines” coalition consists of the groups who filed a lawsuit challenging the congressional map approved by the Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis back in April. That vote came after the governor vetoed the Legislature’s first map, creating the need for a special session.

Those groups, which include the Equal Ground Education Fund, Florida Rising, Black Voters Matter and the League of Women Voters of Florida, contend that the new congressional map violates the Fair Districts Amendment by purposefully diminishing minority voting strength and diminishing the ability of Black voters to elect representatives of their choice.

The ads are targeting Black and brown voters in congressional districts 4,5,7,9,10, 13, 14 26 and 27, according to a press release.

“It’s our hope with this digital ad campaign that we can bring awareness to the role that the Supreme Court plays in this, and to educate voters about their process in the redistricting fight,” Equal Ground political director Genesis Robinson told the Phoenix.

The five high court justices on the ballot are Charles Canady, John Couriel, Jamie Grosshans, Jorge Labarga and Ricky Polston.

Canady, Labarga and Polston were all appointed by Charlie Crist when he was governor between 2007-2011. Couriel and Grosshans were appointed by DeSantis in 2020.

Robinson said that they want voters to be aware that the Supreme Court’s 4-1 vote to approve the DeSantis drawn map “was preferential to him (DeSantis), and as a result we no longer have two Black access seats in the congressional makeup of our state.”

Justice Labarga dissented, and two other justices – Canady and Lawson, abstained.

Some Democratic Party groups, such as the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee, are urging their voters to vote against the retention of four of the justices, only supporting Labarga.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.