Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to the media during a press conference at PortMiami on April 8, 2021 in Miami. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Florida Judge Strikes Down Part of 'Unconstitutional' Map Rigged by GOP Gov. DeSantis

"The enacted map is unconstitutional," said a circuit judge, "because it diminishes African Americans' ability to elect candidates of their choice."

Kenny Stancil

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 Guardian reported, 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 Tributary reported 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.

"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.


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.

EPA's Environmental Justice Office 'Won't Make Up for' Manchin Deal, Campaigner Says

"We've seen a lot of structural changes on environmental justice in the Biden, Obama and Clinton administrations, but we need to see the results," said Wes Gobar of the Movement for Black Lives.

Julia Conley ·


Historic Tropical Storm Fiona Sweeps Homes Into Ocean in Eastern Canada

"Climate change leads to warmer ocean water at higher latitudes," said one Canadian civil engineering professor. "A warmer future increases the probability that more intense storms will reach Canadian coasts."

Julia Conley ·


Federal Judge Allows 'Untenable' Plan to Send Juvenile Inmates to Angola Prison

"The move defies all common sense and best practices, and it will cause irrevocable damage to our youth and families," said one children's advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'Catastrophic': Arizona Judge Allows 1864 Abortion Ban to Go Into Effect

"No archaic law should dictate our reproductive freedom," said one rights advocate.

Julia Conley ·


US Progressives Express Solidarity With Iranian Protesters After Death of Mahsa Amini

"The right to choose belongs to us all, from hijabs to reproductive care," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo