This ongoing case challenges the map that divides neighborhoods along racial lines, packs Black and Hispanic voters, and undermines fair representation.
MIAMI, FL – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida and Dechert LLP filed a motion for preliminary injunction in the lawsuit representing Grove Rights and Community Equity (GRACE), Engage Miami, the South Dade and Miami-Dade NAACP Branches, and five individual city residents who are challenging the Miami City Commission’s newly drawn redistricting map.
The lawsuit, filed on December 16, 2022, in U.S. District Court in Miami, alleges that the Commission’s overriding goal in drawing its map was to separate racial groups into different districts as much as possible, far beyond what the Voting Rights Act (VRA) requires. The packing of Black voters into District 5 and Hispanic voters into Districts 1, 3, and 4 is unconstitutional and diminishes those voters’ influence in adjacent districts. The preliminary injunction motion highlights how the City misused key metrics of VRA compliance and demonstrates other ways the City ignored the law to split communities along racial lines.
This form of racial gerrymandering undermines Black and brown voters’ potential to elect candidates of their choice, does not advance representation, and cannot be justified by compliance with the VRA or another compelling interest.
“Miamians deserve to have their voices heard in the November elections, but this map tramples on fair representation,” said Nicholas Warren, staff attorney with the ACLU of Florida. “Commissioners now have a responsibility to draw a map that protects Black and brown voters and complies with the Constitution and Voting Rights Act.”
The district lines as drawn in this proposed map divide neighborhoods and slice communities to accomplish the Commission’s racial gerrymandering. Coconut Grove, Little Havana, Allapattah, Shenandoah, Silver Bluff, Flagami, Omni/Downtown, Overtown, and Brickell are some of the neighborhoods split for this purpose.
“Miami residents need to have their voices heard and the city must discard this racially gerrymandered map that slices through our communities,” said Yanelis Valdes, Engage Miami’s Director of Advocacy & Organizing and an individual plaintiff in the case. “This map is the result of a calculated approach to split neighborhoods and communities along racial lines to maintain and enhance racially segregated districts.”
“Our goal remains to ensure that all eligible Miamians are able to vote for a Commissioner of their choice and not have their options restricted on account of their race, as guaranteed by the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act,” said Dechert litigation partner Neil Steiner, who leads Dechert’s litigation team on a pro bono basis, with associates Christopher J. Merken and Jocelyn Kirsch.
In the motion, the plaintiffs ask the Court to enjoin the city from using the challenged redistricting map in any elections beginning with the regular 2023 elections and that the Court approve an interim remedial map to be used pending a final judgment in the case. The plaintiffs’ motion will not impact the February 27 special election for City Commission District 2, which will be held under the challenged map.
The challenged map can be viewed on Google Maps here.
The motion for preliminary injunction can be found here.
The amended complaint in GRACE v. City of Miami can be found here.