Florida state judge Layne Smith on Wednesday 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.
DeSantis in March submitted his own redistricting proposal, an action scarcely undertaken by a sitting governor, that would remove the North Florida District.
The governor initially sought legal counsel from the Florida Supreme Court earlier this year as to whether his proposed redistricting plan would be valid in accordance with the Fair Districts standard.
Fair Districts amended the practice of drawing congressional district boundaries in such ways that they establish equitable practices in districts with high concentrations of minority voters. The State Supreme Court refused to administer advice to DeSantis.
“An opinion from this Court in the middle of the legislative process would necessarily interfere with the Legislature’s exclusive authority to craft the laws,” Florida’s Supreme Court said in a legal filing. “While the maps the Legislature might enact remain entirely hypothetical, the threat that the Request for an advisory opinion will draw the Court into the legislative process is not hypothetical. The Legislature is understandably reluctant to act when this Court might issue an opinion affecting its map-drawing powers.”
Democrat opponents have praised the ruling, while the Office of the Governor can be anticipated to immediately appeal.
While enduring the Special Session on redistricting and the despicable process of eliminating Black voters’ representation in Congress, I held out hope and faith that the court would do its job, and today it did,” said Rep. Kelly Skidmore. “No matter how they repeatedly tried to justify themselves, it should come as no surprise to the Governor and this Republican-led legislature that the map is a violation of Florida’s Fair Districts amendments and the U.S. constitution.”
If Smith’s ruling is ultimately appealed, the case would be delegated to the 1st District Court of Appeal, and then if appealed again, it would go to the Florida Supreme Court. The 1st District could additionally opt to send it straight to the state’s highest court.
This is a developing breaking news story and will continue to be updated.