Aerial view of Miami Antonio Cuellar/Unsplash

Progressive civic groups in South Florida are challenging a map drawn by the Republican-controlled state Legislature with a new lawsuit filed last week. They claim four congressional districts and seven state House districts were racially gerrymandered for Hispanics.

The congressional districts being challenged stretch from the Fort Myers area on the Gulf Coast across the state to the Miami area and down to the Florida Keys. The House districts are mainly concentrated in the Miami area. All of the districts are currently represented by Republicans.

The lawsuit alleges that the drawn districts are unconstitutional, and the progressive groups are asking a federal court in South Florida to stop them from being used for any elections, the Associated Press reports. The groups also believe that the districts were racially gerrymandered for Hispanics who are too diverse in Florida to be considered a protected minority.

The defendants in the lawsuit will be the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment, according to the Associated Press.

Federal and state laws dictate that race can be considered during redistricting to protect minority voters if the minority group is cohesive and if majority-white voters are able to keep the minority group from electing their preferred candidates.

But prosecutors claim the Florida Legislature wrongly assumed that South Florida's Hispanic voters are cohesive when that's no longer the case since the white majority in Florida regularly votes in coalition with the Hispanic voters in South Florida.

"Rather, it is nuanced, multifaceted, and diverse with respect to political behavior and preferences," the lawsuit said of South Florida's Hispanic community. "The Legislature was not entitled to draw race-based districts based on uninformed assumptions of racial sameness."

Prosecutors also believe that genuine minority communities of interest in the city of Miami and Collier County were split up when the districts were drawn.

"In drawing these districts, the Florida Legislature subordinated traditional redistricting criteria and state constitutional requirements to race without narrowly tailoring the district lines to advance a compelling government interest," the lawsuit said.

As drawn, the districts violate basic principles of good district drawing, such as making sure communities stay intact, being compact and keeping districts from stretching far and wide into disparate neighborhoods, the lawsuit explained.

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