The court’s rulings amend judgments in a Voting Rights Act case issued in 1986
Starke, Fla. – Yesterday, a federal judge granted a request to approve a new map for Bradford County Commission districts, amending a consent decree in a Voting Rights Act lawsuit brought by the NAACP and Black community leaders in 1986. The decision comes after Bradford County School Board districts received a similar ruling issued on September 12. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida represents the Florida State Conference of the NAACP and a class of all Black Bradford County residents, led by County Commissioner Carolyn B. Spooner and Lawtey Mayor Jimmie L. Scott, in the parallel class-action cases.
In recent months, the County Commission, School Board, and Supervisor of Elections worked with the ACLU of Florida, NAACP, and other community members to develop a new redistricting map that protects Black voters’ ability to participate in democracy and ensures equal representation for all residents. Population shifts had made districts unequal in size, necessitating adjustments to comply with the “One Person, One Vote” requirement of the U.S. Constitution.
The County Commission and School Board adopted the new map in May and submitted it for court approval thereafter. The court rulings amended judgments entered in 1986, which ordered a single-member district system, including one district in which Black voters could elect a candidate of their choice. Prior to the lawsuit, no Black person had ever been elected to the Bradford County Commission or School Board.
“Elected officials and community members worked collaboratively to reach a consensus on districts that best serve the people of Bradford County,” said County Commissioner Carolyn B. Spooner, a lead plaintiff in the litigation. “Forty years ago, NAACP members sued to enforce the Voting Rights Act and secure fair representation they had long been denied. This map protects and strengthens those hard-fought gains, showing we work best when we work together.”
“This new map restores equal representation and fulfills the county’s obligations under the Voting Rights Act and Constitution,” said Nicholas Warren, staff attorney with the ACLU of Florida. “We appreciate the efforts of elected officials, their staff, and the members of the public who got engaged in this process to achieve positive change for their community.”
Federal District Judge Brian Davis’s order granting the motion and approving the map for the County Commission can be found here: https://www.aclufl.org/en/naacp-v-bradford-county-order-modifying-judgment
Federal District Judge Timothy Corrigan’s order granting the motion and approving the map for the School Board can be found here: https://www.aclufl.org/en/naacp-v-bradford-county-school-board-order-mod...