Tuesday marks the beginning of Florida’s special legislative session, where Republican lawmakers are planning to effectively hand over to Gov. Ron DeSantis the power to draw the state’s congressional maps.
After DeSantis vetoed their proposed maps, the state Legislature’s Republican leaders deferred their legally authorized power to draw the maps to him. During the special session, lawmakers will vote on DeSantis’ maps, which would give the GOP an even wider advantage than the state Legislature’s proposed maps. The governor’s proposal would create 20 favorable districts for Republicans compared to just eight for Democrats, and it would destroy two majority Black districts with seats held by Black Democrats. All of this apparent gerrymandering would be quite helpful to DeSantis should he declare his candidacy for president in 2024.
Any maps Republicans allow DeSantis to create will likely be challenged in court before then. But as I’ve written previously, the governor is stoking this legal fight with hopes that a conservative federal judge — or, perhaps, the conservative-tiled Supreme Court — will overturn a Florida law that guarantees districts aren’t drawn in a way that disenfranchise racial minorities.
“We do not fall prey to gaslighting. We see what it is. We see it clearly and it needs to stop.”
— Florida state Rep. Dotie JosepH
DeSantis is banking on right-wing justices agreeing with his bogus argument that laws like Florida’s “Fair Districts” amendment, along with the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, are illegal when used to protect minorities from racist gerrymandering.
On Monday, Black Democrats in Florida held a press conference to denounce DeSantis’ attempt to dilute Black districts. Florida state Sen. Shevrin Jones called the move a “racist tactic.”
“The governor knows what he’s doing,” Jones said. “He wants this to go all the way up to the Supreme Court. So, he’s testing the courts. And it’s not just with the maps. It’s with the abortion ban. You name it. He’s doing all of this to push it to the courts, because the courts are stacked.”
“We do not fall prey to gaslighting,” said state Rep. Dotie Joseph. “We see what it is. We see it clearly and it needs to stop.”
State Rep. Michael Grieco, who is white, also spoke at the press conference and lambasted Republicans for folding under pressure.
“They’re giving up their right to make a decision and they are relenting to a governor who is essentially a narcissistic autocrat,” he said.
And commandeering the map-drawing process isn’t the only autocratic item on the agenda during Florida’s special session.
On Tuesday morning, DeSantis announced the Legislature will consider revoking Disney’s special tax status in Florida. DeSantis has targeted the media giant for opposing a homophobic and transphobic education law he backed dubbed by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Florida Republicans are behaving like drones who mindlessly acquiesce to their ruler’s wishes. They’re following DeSantis en route to fascism, and they’re taking the entire state of along for the ride.