Civil rights groups argue judge’s ruling in Jacksonville redistricting case shouldn’t be put on hold

This file photo shows Jacksonville City Hall. (News4Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There’s another update in the court battle over Jacksonville’s new city council and school board districts.

Last week, the city filed a motion with the 11th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, asking for a stay of a federal judge’s ruling on redistricting. In December, the judge ruled against the Jacksonville City Council’s redistricting plan and said the city should use the map proposed by civil rights groups. But the city wants to be able to use the map that the council approved in November for city elections this year.

The court set a deadline of noon Tuesday for the plaintiffs — the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union and individual voters — to respond.

🔒 INSIDER INTERACTIVE MAP: See how Jacksonville’s council districts would change under new map

Jacksonville new district map
Map approved by Jacksonville City Council

The plaintiffs call the city’s motion a “last-minute bait-and-switch to try to maintain its racially gerrymandered City Council districts.”

They say the city’s motion for a stay is “procedurally flawed.” They argue a stay is meant to preserve the status quo, but here, the city is essentially asking the appeals court to reverse the district court’s decision, which is “unrelated to preserving the status quo.”

The plaintiffs also point out that the city’s ordinance that would have put the city council map into effect “shall become effective upon being deemed constitutional by Court order.” But they say, since the judge never found that plan constitutional, the ordinance never took effect, so you can’t go back to that map.

They say, if you were going to go to a “status quo,” it would be the map put in place in 2011 after the 2010 census, but those districts are no longer constitutionally apportioned, so they argue, you can’t go back to that map.

COURT DOCUMENT: Plaintiffs’ amended response to city’s motion for stay

The plaintiffs also say that the city had previously said a new plan had to be in place by Dec. 16, so the Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office could prepare for elections. Now, the plaintiffs say, “the City realized it had an extra three weeks before the impending pandemonium” in that it gave the court until Jan. 6 to make a decision — before qualifying begins.

They also say the city isn’t entitled to a stay — partially, because the city isn’t likely to succeed on the merits of its appeal of the judge’s decision.

It’s now up to the 11th Circuit to rule — a decision that the city asked to be made by Friday.

In a separate filing Tuesday, submitted to the federal district court in Jacksonville, the city addressed an earlier motion, asking the judge to waive the city’s 183-day residency requirement for candidates wishing to qualify for office.

In the initial motion filed last month, the city asked to instead require residency to be established as of the date of qualification.

COURT DOCUMENT: City’s supplement to motion to waive residency

In the newest filing, the city clarifies it is not seeking a waiver for the residency requirements for the at-large districts, a point previously raised by the plaintiffs.

Additionally, the city now says it is asking to waive the 183-day residency requirement only for the districts whose boundaries have changed as a result of the ongoing lawsuit: districts 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 14.