The Bryan Simpson U.S. Courthouse in Downtown Jacksonville. [The Tributary]

U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard will not have a definitive ruling in the Jacksonville City Council redistricting case by Friday as the city had asked for, saying she would instead try to rule by Monday due to the legal complexity.

The city has repeatedly said that, according to Duval Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan, “a map must be in place by December 16.” But Howard said in a short order Friday that she was prioritizing “the importance of assuring that the decision is both correct and comprehensive in its discussion of the complex legal and factual matters that must be addressed.”

“The Court anticipates entry of a decision on Monday, December 19, 2022,” Howard wrote. “The Court is confident that the importance of the matters determined in this decision outweighs any harm that might flow from a delay of one business day.”

When asked if Hogan’s office would be able to administer the March elections if he doesn’t get a new map until Monday, Hogan told the Tributary by email, “We have to.”

Howard previously barred the city from using maps it passed in March because seven of the 14 districts likely violated the Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

“And absent an injunction, the irreparable Constitutional harm caused by the unnecessary racial segregation of voters in the Challenged Districts will be complete and perpetuate for years into the future,” Howard ruled at the time, ordering the city to draw a new map.

Howard now must decide whether to accept or reject the city’s remedial redistricting plan. If she rejects the city’s plan, she may accept one of three offered by the plaintiffs.

Those plaintiffs include the Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP, the Northside Coalition, the ACLU of Florida Northeast Chapter and Florida Rising, along with 10 Jacksonville voters.

The new map will affect the coming City Council elections in March 2023. Fourteen of the city’s 19 council members are elected to districts while the other five are elected countywide.

Andrew Pantazi edits and reports for The Tributary. He previously worked as a reporter at The Florida Times-Union where he helped organize the newsroom's union with the NewsGuild-CWA. He is a Jacksonville...