Federal lawsuit over Jacksonville’s city council redistricting ends with settlement

Redistricting court battle creates uncertainty for candidates

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A federal judge has now given final approval to a settlement that ends a lengthy legal battle over redistricting between several civil rights groups and the city of Jacksonville.

The lawsuit, filed by the Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Northside Coalition, along with several voters, alleged that district maps drawn following the 2020 Census entrenched “racial gerrymandering.”

The plaintiffs proposed several alternative maps last fall. A federal judge ordered that one of those maps, known as P3, be used for the 2023 city elections, while the litigation continued. In March, we learned negotiations were underway for the two sides to settle the case. The settlement, reached in April, keeps the P3 map in place until district lines are redrawn following the 2030 Census. Under the terms of the agreement, the city will also pay the plaintiffs $100,000 in legal fees.

The Jacksonville City Council approved the settlement with a 15-3 vote on May 9, sending it to the judge for final approval.

On Friday morning, U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard held a brief hearing with the two sides via Zoom to discuss the wording of some parts of the settlement documents. The order approving the settlement was then issued Tuesday afternoon.

Under the settlement, the plaintiffs can also request the court for a special election in 2024 for school board districts 4 and 6 since those districts are based on combining two city council districts that are next to each other. Those districts include some of the council districts that were redrawn, and elections were held in those school board districts last year for terms running through 2026. The special elections would be held at the same time as the regular 2024 elections. The judge gave the plaintiffs until June 29 to file a motion if they wish to make that request.