Judge J. Lynn Smith, a DeSantis appointee in the Second Circuit Court of Florida, said during a hearing that he intends to issue an injunction preventing the map from going into effect. Smith said the map violates the state constitution “because it diminishes the ability of African Americans to elect a representative of their choosing.”
The order can come as soon as Thursday. A DeSantis spokeswoman said the judge’s ruling would be appealed “without a doubt”.
“As Justice Smith noted, these complex constitutional legal issues have always been decided at the appellate level. We will undoubtedly appeal his ruling confident that the Florida legislature’s constitutional map that has been signed into law is gaining legal mobilization,” the spokeswoman said. Taryn Finsky in a statement “We look forward to defending it.”
DeSantis argued that Florida’s Fifth Congressional District, currently represented by Democrat Al Lawson, was unconstitutional because it stretched 150 miles of connection from Tallahassee to Jacksonville.
But Smith said during the hearing that the area has historical roots in the black communities along the Florida-Georgia border that were once inhabited by farms. He added that his hands are tied by the precedent set by the state Supreme Court, which over the past decade has defined district boundaries after years of legal battles, and the state constitution, which states that a redistribution plan cannot diminish the ability of minority residents “to elect representatives of their choice.”
The map that DeSantis signed into law reduced from four to two the number of districts in which blacks make up a group of voters, known as black access districts. In addition to eliminating Lawson’s seat, the state map also reduced the percentage of black voters in Florida’s 10th Congressional District, an Orlando-area seat represented by Representative Val Demings, a black Democrat now running for the US Senate. The DeSantis office accomplished this by shifting the area east towards the Whiter Communities.
“No matter how they have tried to justify themselves over and over again, it should come as no surprise to the governor and this Republican-led legislature that the map It is a violation of the Florida Fair Districts Amendments and the US Constitution.”
Smith suggested that the maps DeSantis objected to could serve as a basis for the maps used in the 2022 election.
DeSantis appointed Smith to the circuit court in 2020. Smith previously served as a district judge appointed in 2015 by the then government. Rick Scott, Republican and now the state’s youngest US senator.
Republicans currently have a 16-11 advantage in the US House of Representatives delegation in Florida. The state added the 28th district after the 2020 census.
This title and story have been updated.