A circuit court judge has deemed Florida’s new congressional map unconstitutional.
Judge Layne Smith agreed with complaints brought by Democrats who argued the map underrepresented minority voters.
Smith said the law violated the Florida Constitution’s Fair Districts amendment and cited a bipartisan map passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature that DeSantis vetoed.
That map would have added one Republican-leaning seat in Congress. DeSantis’s map created four new GOP-leaning seats. The map would have erased a heavily Democratic district in North Florida represented by a black Democrat.
For now, Florida’s redistricting process is in doubt. The case will head to one of the state’s district courts of appeal.
The Miami Herald further reports:
Smith said the order will likely replace the DeSantis map with one of two that the Legislature included in a bill and sent to DeSantis in March. The governor vetoed the bill and later called the Legislature back into special session. The Republican-dominated House and Senate chose not to draw a new map, and instead passed the DeSantis map.
The challenge focuses on a north Florida district now held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson. The district runs from Jacksonville west more than 200 miles (322 kilometers) to Gadsden County and nearly half of its population is Black.
DeSantis’ proposal prompted a protest by Black House members as the chamber was preparing to vote on the maps.
Smith said he will issue his order as soon as he can so the state can immediately appeal it. It may be the conservative state Supreme Court that ultimately resolves the dispute.
Besides Florida, four states have not finished the redistricting process. They are New Hampshire, New York, Missouri and Kansas.
According to FiveThirtyEight, the approved congressional maps in 45 states have produced seven more Democratic-leaning seats, three fewer Republican-leaning seats and four fewer highly competitive seats.