By Dianne Gallagher, CNN
A coalition of civil rights groups has filed the first lawsuit in Florida against GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recently passed congressional map that eliminates two districts represented by black Democrats while giving Republicans the edge in no less of 20 of the 28 seats.
The GOP-controlled Florida Legislature approved the map in a special session this week along party lines. DeSantis said he signed the card on Friday.
The lawsuit, filed in state court in Leon County, alleges the card is a Republican gerrymander and violates the Fair Districts Amendment to the Florida Constitution by diminishing the power of black voters. The plaintiffs are asking the court to rule that the map or the individual districts violate the Fair Districts Amendment and to order the adoption of a new congressional map.
The challenge was filed by several Florida voters, as well as the League of Women Voters Florida, Black Voters Matter, Florida Rising and Equal Ground Florida.
The lawsuit comes about 24 hours after Republicans in the state voted to adopt the new borders, which – in an unprecedented move – were submitted by DeSantis’ office last week after opposing his vetoes previous maps approved by the legislature.
The approved map could help Florida Republicans win up to four seats in the US House of Representatives in November.
The map dismantles the state’s 5th congressional district, currently represented by Democrat Al Lawson, which connects black communities from Tallahassee to Jacksonville. Instead, Jacksonville, the city with the largest African-American population in Florida, is divided into two Republican-leaning districts.
The map also shifts the 10th congressional district — an Orlando-area seat represented by Val Demings, a black Democrat currently running for the U.S. Senate — east toward whiter communities.
DeSantis argued that these districts are racist and suggested that they are unconstitutional.
Several black members of the Florida House staged a protest during the debate on Thursday, forcing an informal recess before Republican members continued the process by shutting down the debate and holding the vote during the protest.
The Republicans currently hold a 16-11 advantage in the US House delegation in Florida. The state added a 28th district following the 2020 U.S. Census.
This story and title have been updated with additional details.
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CNN’s Steve Contorno, Ethan Cohen and Jaide Timm-Garcia contributed to this report.