Redistricting spat heads to Florida Supreme Court

by | May 24, 2022

 

 

Groups in opposition to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposed redistricting map filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court in an attempt to halt a stay that set the governor’s map to be used in the upcoming midterm elections.

In a 59-page emergency petition, the plaintiffs requested the Supreme Court to place an additional stay on the 1st District Court of Appeal’s order that re-validated DeSantis’ map. “A stay of the First District’s decision is necessary to preserve this (Supreme) Court’s ability to adjudicate the parties’ appeals in time for the 2022 elections,” the filing said.

Florida state judge Layne Smith on May 11 granted a preliminary injunction on Florida’s new congressional map, preventing the newly proposed map from being used in the upcoming election cycle The lawsuit sought to halt the implementation of Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ self-drawn map, which intended to dissolve Florida’s 5th Congressional District, which is held by Democrat Rep Al Lawson.

The lawsuit alleges the map violates Florida’s Constitution and the voter-approved Fair Districts Amendment by reducing the strength of Black voters, with which Smith ruled in conjunction. The decision was predicated on the legality to terminate Florida’s 5th Congressional District, a winding and arbitrarily drawn area put in place to help elect a Black member of Congress.

DeSantis in recent months claimed that maintaining the district invokes racial gerrymandering and violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. However, last week a Florida court of appeals imposed a stay against Smith’s presiding, again allowing the map that eliminates the 5th Congressional District to be used in the upcoming November elections.

“Based on a preliminary review, the court has determined there is a high likelihood that the temporary injunction is unlawful,” the court of appeals order reads. “Because by awarding a preliminary remedy to the appellee’s on their claim, the order ‘frustrated the status quo, rather than preserved it.”

The appeals court additionally cited the “exigency of the circumstances and the need for certainty and continuity as election season approaches.”

News Service of Florida reports that attorneys for the state urged the appeals court to decline the certification request, claiming that it is already too late to provide any relief for the 2022 election cycle.

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