A Florida judge has struck down part of Governor Ron DeSantis’ congressional district map proposal. Judge Layne Smith ruled that the version approved by the Republican-controlled state legislature diminished the rights of African American voters in a congressional district stretching from Jacksonville west to Tallahassee.
The Hill reports:
The legislature had initially approved a map that maintained the Black-majority district in north Florida, currently held by Rep. Al Lawson (D). But DeSantis vetoed that map and insisted the legislature pass his own version, which drew Lawson out of a seat.
Smith cited a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution that requires maps to be drawn in a fair manner.
“I am finding the enacted map is unconstitutional under the Fair District Amendment because it diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect candidates of their choice,” Smith said from the bench.
Smith said he would rush to finish the written ruling so that the state could immediately appeal.
Smith opted to adopt a map proposed by plaintiffs, which leaves much of the rest of DeSantis’s map intact. The revised version redraws northern Florida to maintain Lawson’s district.
DeSantis’s intervention in the redistricting process was unprecedented for a governor in modern times and reportedly shocked Republican legislators.
DeSantis’s proposed map created 18 Republican-leaning seats and just eight Democratic-leaning seats.