The city of Jacksonville, Florida, in March 2022 adopted racially gerrymandered district voting maps that dilute the voting power of Black residents in city council and school board elections.
On behalf of four civil rights organizations and 10 individuals, the SPLC and its co-counsel filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the new maps unconstitutionally pack Black voters into four city council districts and two school board districts, diminishing their ability to influence elections in adjacent districts.
The lawsuit challenges the maps as illegal under the 14th Amendment as well as the city’s charter, which requires districts to be logical and compact.
In passing these maps, the Jacksonville City Council impermissibly concentrated Black residents into council districts 7, 8, 9 and 10. As a result, the council ensured a high white population in three adjacent districts – districts 2, 12 and 14. The packed districts snake through the city to capture as many Black voters as possible, making their Black populations artificially high.
The Black populations of the surrounding districts are simultaneously depressed because the maps carefully avoid concentrations of Black voters. As a consequence, most of Jacksonville’s Black voters are segregated into just four of 14 districts, depressing their influence over city council elections overall.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida/Jacksonville Division on behalf of the Jacksonville NAACP Branch, the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, the Northeast Chapter of the ACLU of Florida and Florida Rising.