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May 23, 2023

Court Issues Preliminary Injunction in Case Challenging Miami City Commission Map, Orders Drawing of New, Fairer Maps

MIAMI, FL – Today, a court blocked Miami City Commission’s map that divides neighborhoods along racial lines, packs Black and Hispanic voters into specific districts, and undermines fair representation. Grove Rights and Community Equity (GRACE), Engage Miami, the South Dade and Miami-Dade NAACP Branches, and five individual city residents sought and obtained this preliminary injunction as part of ongoing litigation, GRACE v. City of Miami, which challenges the Miami City Commission map as a racial gerrymander under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU of Florida and pro bono co-counsel at Dechert LLP.

While the case will proceed to a full trial, the court has ordered the City to mediate with the plaintiffs and has given the City Commission the opportunity to draw and implement newer, fairer maps for the time being. The new map must be in place by August 1 to be used in the November 2023 municipal elections.

“Fair representation is a right,” said Yanelis Valdes, Engage Miami’s Director of Advocacy & Organizing and an individual plaintiff in the case. “Every Miami resident’s voice and vote matters and should carry the same weight. Today’s victory holds our local government accountable in ensuring we have fair maps and brings us closer to true democracy.”

“We are grateful for the court’s decision,” said Clarice Cooper, GRACE board member and an individual plaintiff in the case. “Our communities deserve to have their voices heard, especially for those residents who are descendants of the early settlers and have constantly had their concerns overlooked by the government.”

“The NAACP is thankful for the judge’s ruling, and continues to support fairness for the Black and disenfranchised voters across Miami,” said Harold Ford, President of the NAACP South Dade Branch.

“The judge’s ruling affirms that there is hope for our democracy and gives us all the opportunity to make our voices heard,” said Daniella Pierre, President of the NAACP Miami-Dade Branch. “Today the courts rejected a map that would diminish the voting power of Black and Spanish-speaking Miamians.”

The lawsuit, filed on December 16, 2022, in U.S. District Court in Miami, claims that the Commission’s goal in drawing its map was to separate racial groups into different districts 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.

“Today is an important win for our democracy,” said Nicholas Warren, staff attorney with the ACLU of Florida. “Our Constitution protects fair representation and the Miami City Commission map does the exact opposite. All Miami voters have the right to fair representation regardless of their race, and we look forward to working with the City to develop a new, fair map.”

“We are committed to ensuring that all Americans have an opportunity to vote and have their vote counted equally, and are thrilled that the Court enjoined Miami’s blatant misuse of race to draw commission districts,” said Neil Steiner, Dechert litigation partner.

The challenged map can be viewed on Google Maps here.

A copy of the court’s ruling can be found here.