Former Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner testified at a federal trial regarding the 2022 redistricting plan in the state. He criticized past rulings by the Florida Supreme Court on redistricting and raised questions about the Legislature’s handling of the process. Detzner also denied that the map touted by Governor Ron DeSantis was drawn for partisan reasons or to benefit incumbents. In addition, he claimed to have had no knowledge that the redistricting split up a seat previously held by a Black representative and increased the percentage of white voters in four districts.
The trial, which is separate from a state court challenge, primarily focuses on the dismantling of the seat held by Representative Al Lawson. A Florida circuit judge recently ruled that the redrawn district violates the state’s Constitution and ordered the Legislature to create a new map. The state’s appeal of the ruling will be heard by a state appeals court later this fall. In the federal trial, lawyers for the groups and individuals suing plan to present experts to examine the history of redistricting in Florida and determine if discriminatory intent can be shown. The trial centers on DeSantis’ intervention in the redistricting process and his decision to propose his own maps, vetoing the Legislature’s initial proposal.
During testimony, Detzner was challenged on the motivations behind DeSantis’ actions and was asked to cite a court ruling supporting the claim that Lawson’s former district was unconstitutional. Detzner admitted he did not know of such a ruling. Despite previously stating in a deposition that he had not read the 2015 Florida Supreme Court decision establishing Lawson’s district, Detzner asserted that the court’s ruling was incorrect. He also acknowledged that there were instances where he disagreed with the Legislature’s analysis of redistricting and the treatment of an expert who defended the governor’s proposal at a legislative hearing. Critics argued that Detzner’s testimony demonstrated the administration’s struggle to justify their actions and suggested an attempt to deny history and twist the facts.