TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – A state judge ruled on Wednesday that a congressional map adopted by Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and created by his staff is unlawful because it divides a district where Black voters can choose their representatives. Judge Layne Smith of Leon County said he will issue a formal injunction Thursday or Friday to prevent the maps from going into force for the November election. He made it plain that if voting rights groups challenged the maps, he would rule in their favor.
According to Smith, the order will most likely replace DeSantis’ map with one of two options included in a bill given to DeSantis in March. The law was vetoed by the governor, who then called a special session of the Legislature. Instead of drawing a new map, the Republican-controlled House and Senate passed the DeSantis map. The challenge focuses on Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson’s seat in north Florida. The district stretches over 200 miles (322 kilometers) from Jacksonville to Gadsden County, and over half of its residents are African-American.
“The judge understands that this map is unconstitutional and limits African Americans’ capacity to elect representatives of their choice,” Lawson wrote in an email to news organizations. “DeSantis made a mistake by enacting this Republican-leaning map, which is clearly in violation of the federal and state constitutions.” Members of the Black House protested DeSantis’ suggestion as the chamber prepared to vote on the maps. Smith stated that he will issue his order as quickly as possible so that the state can file an appeal. It’s possible that the dispute will be resolved by the conservative state Supreme Court. The office of DeSantis announced that it will appeal.
“These difficult constitutional issues were always going to be determined at the appellate level, as Judge Smith intimated,” “Taryn Fenske, a spokesman for DeSantis, wrote in an email. “We will likely appeal his decision, and we are confident that the constitutional map passed by the Florida legislature and signed into law meets all legal requirements.” While the DeSantis plan is more compact, Smith believes that the issue of allowing Black voters to choose their representatives is more critical.
“The district that has since been enacted and signed into law by the governor distributes 367,000 African American votes across four separate districts,” says the governor “In a video conversation with both parties, Smith added. “African Americans do not constitute a plurality or a majority of the population.” Smith’s judgment was applauded by Equal Ground, one of several voting rights organizations that challenged the maps.
“No Floridian is above the law, even Governor DeSantis,” Equal Ground creator Jasmine Burney-Clark said in an emailed statement to news agencies. “This is a significant step forward in the struggle to protect Black voters, and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that our voices are heard. “The governor’s administration drew out a map that it claimed was racial and party neutral, and that followed both the state and federal constitutions. Smith stated that his decision will be based on the state constitution rather than the federal constitution.
From June 13 to 17, candidates can qualify for federal office.