May 11, 2022
A state judge on Wednesday invalidated part of Florida's new congressional map--drawn by right-wing Gov. Ron DeSantis' office and approved last month by the Republican-controlled Legislature--siding with plaintiffs who accused the GOP of violating the state constitution through racial gerrymandering.
Judge Layne Smith of the 2nd Circuit Court said that "the enacted map is unconstitutional because it diminishes African Americans' ability to elect candidates of their choice."
As The Guardianreported, Smith's ruling "dealt specifically with DeSantis' decision to dismantle Florida's 5th Congressional District," which "stretched from Jacksonville to Tallahassee, was 46% Black, and is currently represented by Al Lawson, a Black Democrat."
DeSantis, the outlet noted, "chopped the district up into four districts where Republican candidates would be favored to win." The new map, described as "deeply racist" by experts, would end Lawson's congressional career.
As Jacksonville's The Tributaryreported Wednesday:
[Smith] ordered the state to adopt a map that maintains an east-to-west version of Jacksonville's 5th Congressional District, stretching from Duval to Gadsden counties.
The ruling came after a Wednesday hearing that saw plaintiffs argue that Gov. Ron DeSantis' congressional map, which eliminated Jacksonville's current Black ability-to-elect district, violated the state constitution.
Equal Ground Florida, one of the civil rights groups that immediately challenged DeSantis' map after it was passed in the face of a sit-in staged by state Democrats, welcomed Smith's ruling.
\u201cThis is a great day!! We\u2019ve been fighting to protect Black Representation in Florida and today the courts determined Gov. DeSantis\u2019 map violates the state constitution. Official statement coming soon\u2026#StopTheBlackAttack\u201d— Equal Ground (@Equal Ground) 1652291586
"The Florida Legislature's redistricting maps in the 1990s and 2010s were similarly struck down, but in those cases, it took six years to get a final ruling," The Tributary reported. "This time, the plaintiffs sought to focus on getting a preliminary injunction redrawing North Florida's districts before the 2022 elections. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs are still seeking a full trial to get the whole map thrown out."
Smith is expected to release a written order by Thursday. DeSantis' office has vowed to appeal. It would first go to the 1st District Court of Appeals and could potentially end up at the Florida Supreme Court.
We're optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.
We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter counts.
Your contribution supports this new media model—free, independent, and dedicated to uncovering the truth. Stand with us in the fight for social justice, human rights, and equality. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!
Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.