A portion of Florida’s new congressional map was blocked Wednesday after a circuit judge found it violated the state’s constitution.
Judge J. Layne Smith said the map‘s dismantling of black Democratic Rep. Al Lawson’s district “diminishes the ability of African Americans to elect candidates of their choice,” Politico reported. He said his intention is to issue a ruling that would keep Lawson’s North Florida district intact.
“As Judge Smith implied, these complex constitutional matters of law were always going to be decided at the appellate level,” Taryn Fenske, a spokesperson for Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement.
DeSantis had pushed for the aggressive map during the redistricting process, even coming into conflict with the state’s Republican legislature, who eventually relented. Smith was appointed by DeSantis two years ago, Politico reported.
This would save #FL05 Rep. Al Lawson (D) and net Dems one seat vs. the DeSantis map. For now, pending appeal, @CookPolitical is shifting our FL redistricting outlook half a seat in Dems’ direction. https://t.co/47pPLTS0Ad
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) May 11, 2022
“We will undoubtedly be appealing his ruling and are confident the constitutional map enacted by the Florida Legislature and signed into law passes legal muster. We look forward to defending it,” Fenske said.
Lawson championed the decision and voiced his optimism that higher courts will follow Smith’s lead, Politico reported.
“DeSantis is wrong for enacting this Republican-leaning map that is in clear violation of the U.S. and state constitutions,” Lawson told the outlet in a statement. “It is critical to maintain congressional district five so minority voters have a voice at the ballot box in November.”
David Wasserman, a senior editor at the Cook Political Report, tweeted the decision means “Republicans are now on track to net ~2.5 seats from redistricting alone,” a slight decrease from the previous three-seat projection.
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