Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP v. City of Jacksonville, 3:22-cv-493-MMH-LLL

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
PartiesJACKSONVILLE BRANCH OF THE NAACP, et al., Plaintiffs, v. CITY OF JACKSONVILLE, et al., Defendants. Districts 1990 Census 1991 2001 2011
Docket Number3:22-cv-493-MMH-LLL
Decision Date12 October 2022


CITY OF JACKSONVILLE, et al., Defendants.

No. 3:22-cv-493-MMH-LLL

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division

October 12, 2022



THIS CAUSE is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 36; Motion), filed on July 22, 2022.[1]Defendants City of Jacksonville and Mike Hogan in his official capacity as Duval County Supervisor of Elections (collectively, the City), filed a response in opposition to the Motion on August 12, 2022. See Defendants' Response to Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunctive Relief (Doc. 41; Response).[2] And, on August 23, 2022,


Plaintiffs[3] filed Plaintiffs' Reply in Support of Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 43; Reply). In accordance with the Court's briefing schedule, see Minute Entry (Doc. 26), on August 5, 2022, Plaintiffs also filed a separate brief addressing the potential remedial process. See Plaintiffs' Brief on Interim Remedial Process (Doc. 39; Plaintiffs' Remedies Brief). As instructed by the Court, and without waiving its contention that the Motion is due to be denied, the City similarly filed a brief on an appropriate remedy if the Motion were to be granted. See Defendants' Remedy Brief (Doc. 45), filed August 24, 2022. On September 16, 2022, the parties came before the Court for a hearing on the Motion, the record of which is incorporated herein by reference. See Minute Entry (Doc. 48). Accordingly, this matter is ripe for review.

I. Overview

Following completion of the decennial federal census, the Jacksonville City Charter requires the City Council to redistrict the fourteen City Council districts, five at-large residence areas, and seven School Board districts. See Jacksonville City Charter §§ 5.02(a), 13.03. The purpose of redistricting is to ensure that the various districts and residence areas are, to the extent possible, "nearly equal in population" and "arranged in a logical and compact geographic


pattern . . . ." Id., § 5.02(a). On March 22, 2022, the City Council passed Jacksonville Ordinance 2022-01-E (the Ordinance) setting forth the new district maps (the Enacted Plan). See Ordinance (Doc. 2).[4] Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit challenging the Enacted Plan on May 3, 2022, see Complaint (Doc. 1), and on July 22, 2022, filed the instant Motion seeking a preliminary injunction enjoining the implementation of the Enacted Plan and requiring new district lines to be drawn prior to the next election, scheduled for March 21, 2023.[5]

The Plaintiffs in this action include organizational Plaintiffs whose members live in the City of Jacksonville as well as individual Black resident voters. The organizational Plaintiffs are the Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP, the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, Inc., the ACLU of Florida Northeast Chapter, and Florida Rising Together, Inc. As relevant to this action, the Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP states that it advocates "for the voting rights of African American and other voters of color in Jacksonville," the Northside Coalition explains that it "has been heavily involved in Jacksonville's redistricting process to ensure fair map and democratic equality for Black


residents," the ACLU of Florida Northeast Chapter states that its "mission is to defend civil liberties and freedoms" and that it engages in activities that "focus on voting and voting reform in Jacksonville," and Florida Rising Together Inc. seeks to "increase the voting and political power of marginalized communities." The individual Plaintiffs each describe themselves as a "Black resident" of one of the districts created in the Enacted Plan that are challenged in this action.

Plaintiffs contend that certain districts in the Enacted Plan are improper racial gerrymanders in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Specifically, Plaintiffs maintain that Black voters were stripped from Districts 2, 12, and 14, and packed into Districts 7, 8, 9, and 10 (together, the Challenged Districts).[6] According to Plaintiffs, the City Council drew the lines of these districts predominately based on race. As such, Plaintiffs maintain that the City must satisfy strict scrutiny review of its race-based decision-making; that is, the City must show that the race-based redistricting: 1) serves a compelling interest and 2) is narrowly-tailored to serve that end. According to Plaintiffs, the City cannot satisfy strict scrutiny because even if the City had a compelling interest, such as compliance with § 2 of the Voting Rights Act, its line drawing was not narrowly tailored to serve that


interest. As such, Plaintiffs assert that the Enacted Plan violates the Equal Protection Clause. For that reason, Plaintiffs argue that preliminary injunctive relief is warranted in advance of the upcoming election because the Enacted Plan packs Black voters into just four of fourteen districts, the result of which is to dilute and depress the influence of Black voters in City Council elections across the rest of the City. See Complaint at 4.

The City opposes the Motion and argues that the Ordinance is lawful because consideration of race did not predominate the redistricting process. Notably, the City makes no attempt to argue that it could satisfy strict scrutiny review. Indeed, at the Preliminary Injunction Hearing, the City conceded that its defense of the Enacted Plan rests on its contention that race did not predominate the redistricting process. See Transcript of Preliminary Injunction Hearing (Doc. 50; Hrg. Tr.) at 36. Regardless, the City maintains that a preliminary injunction is not appropriate given Plaintiffs' delay in challenging the Ordinance and the harm that would come from disrupting the election process given the approaching March election. For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have satisfied the heavy burden necessary to obtain a preliminary injunction directed at a legislative act. As such, the Motion is due to be granted.


II. Standard of Review

A. Generally

A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy. See McDonald's Corp. v. Robertson, 147 F.3d 1301, 1306 (11th Cir. 1998); see also Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008) ("A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right."); Davidoff & CIE, S.A. v. PLD Int'l Corp., 263 F.3d 1297, 1300 (11th Cir. 2001). Indeed, "[a] preliminary injunction is a powerful exercise of judicial authority in advance of trial." Ne. Fla. Chapter of Ass'n of Gen Contractors of Am. v. City of Jacksonville, 896 F.2d 1283, 1284 (11th Cir. 1990). This is particularly true with respect to preliminary injunctions of legislative enactments, which "must be granted reluctantly and only upon a clear showing that the injunction before trial is definitely demanded by the Constitution and by the other strict legal and equitable principles that restrain courts." Id. at 1285 (emphasis added). This is because such injunctions "interfere with the democratic process and lack the safeguards against abuse or error that come with a full trial on the merits . . . ." Id.; see also Robinson v. Attorney General, 957 F.3d 1171, 1178-79 (11th Cir. 2020) ("The chief function of a preliminary injunction is to preserve the status quo until the merits of the controversy can be fully and fairly adjudicated." (internal quotations and citation omitted)).


"A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish [1] that he is likely to succeed on the merits, [2] that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, [3] that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and [4] that an injunction is in the public interest." Winter, 555 U.S. at 20. The Eleventh Circuit recently described the heavy burden on a party seeking preliminary injunctive relief as follows:

A district court may grant a preliminary injunction only if the moving party establishes that: (1) it has a substantial likelihood of success on the merits; (2) it will suffer an irreparable injury unless the injunction is granted; (3) the harm from the threatened injury outweighs the harm the injunction would cause the opposing party; and (4) the injunction would not be adverse to the public interest.

Gonzalez v. Governor of Georgia, 978 F.3d 1266, 1270-71 (11th Cir. 2020); see also Siegel v. LePore. 234 F.3d 1163, 1176 (11th Cir. 2000) (en banc). However, the court also instructed that "the third and fourth factors merge when, as here, the Government is the opposing party." Id. at 1271 (internal quotations and citation omitted). The movant, at all times, bears the burden of persuasion as to each of these requirements. See Ne. Fla., 896 F.2d at 1285. In deciding whether a party has met its burden, "[a] district court may rely on affidavits and hearsay materials which would not be admissible evidence for a permanent injunction, if the evidence is appropriate given the character and objectives of the injunctive proceeding." Levi Strauss & Co. v. Sunrise Int'l Trading Inc., 51 F.3d 982, 985 (11th Cir. 1995)


(internal quotations and citation omitted); see also Cumulus Media. Inc. v. Clear Channel Commc'ns. Inc., 304 F.3d 1167, 1171 (11th Cir. 2002) ("Preliminary injunctions are, by their nature, products of an expedited process often based upon an underdeveloped and incomplete evidentiary record."). Notably, a party's failure to establish any one of the essential elements will warrant denial of the request for preliminary injunctive relief and obviate the need to discuss the remaining elements. See Pittman v. Cole, 267 F.3d 1269, 1292 (11th Cir. 2001) (citing Church v. City of Huntsville, 30 F.3d 1332, 1342 (11th Cir. 1994)).

B. Purcell[7]

In its briefing and at the Hearing, the City invokes the Purcell principle to argue...

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