FLORIDA (CW44 News At 10 | CNN) – The Florida Court of Appeals has reinstated a congressional map signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis last month, allowing the boundaries of new disputed territories to take effect.
By order of Friday, the District Court of First Instance suspended the temporary ban on the DeSantis map, which was posted on May 12 by a district court judge. Judge of the 2nd District Court of Florida J. Lane Smith blocked the map because he said it unconstitutionally deprived minority voters of disenfranchisement in the Florida area represented by Democrat Al Lawson, who is black.
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The Court of Appeals on Friday also expressed skepticism about Smith’s decision to replace the DeSantis map with a map drawn by Harvard University professor Steven Ensolabeher while the trial continued. The court said there was a “high probability” that Smith’s decision was illegal because “by providing pre-trial protection to the appellants” in their case, the order “disrupted the status quo, not maintained it”.
The map, compiled by Ansolabehere and witnessing groups suing the state for the new borders, kept the Lawson County intact while accepting DeSantis-approved lines for neighborhoods south of Panhandle.
The plaintiffs said in a statement on Friday that the Court of Appeals’ decision “does not change the fact that the map proposed by the governor is a clear unconstitutional attack on the Florida youth office”, and urged DeSantis to drop the state’s appeal.
In lawsuits against Florida over the DeSantis map, eligible groups, including Black Voters Matter and Women Voters, said the state had violated a provision in the Florida Constitution that prohibits redrawing of district boundaries in a way that reduces minority population. They “choose the representatives they prefer.”
Smith, the person appointed to the DeSantis bench, agreed with the plaintiffs to strike at the Republican governor in an attempt to create a tough party map ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
“It reduces the ability of African-Americans to elect a representative of their choice,” Smith said during a May 11 hearing on the map.
However, the victory of the eligible groups was short-lived. The GOP currently has a 16-11 lead in the US House of Representatives delegation in Florida. The United States has increased its 28th district since the 2020 US Census.
The Court of Appeals did not rule on the plaintiffs’ motion to expedite the Florida Supreme Court. Time becomes a problem for opponents of the map. The district election observers said the district boundaries should be finalized by the end of the month to prevent problems with the candidates’ qualification period from June 13 to June 17.
DeSantis’s involvement in the creation of the map at the center of the legal battle was “unusual”;
DeSantis insisted that lawmakers send him a map eliminating the Lawson 5th Congressional District, which he said was an unconstitutional mistake as it stretched 150 miles to link black communities from Jacksonville to Tallahassee. DeSantis also wanted to cut the voter turnout in Florida’s 10th district, the Orlando county, represented by Black Democrat MP Val Demings, who is currently running for the U.S. Senate.
Lawmakers initially rejected it, arguing that DeSantis’s claims were based on conscientious legal arguments. In March, the Florida Legislature passed its own map, which DeSantis immediately vetoed. Following public controversy, Republican lawmakers gave in to DeSantis, and at a special session in April, the legislature approved a map drawn by the governor.
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