A Florida judge on Saturday ruled that a congressional map put forward by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) was unconstitutional and ordered the state legislature to redraw the boundaries.
Circuit Judge J. Lee Marsh found that the redrawn districts authorized by DeSantis in northern Florida violated the state constitution’s Fair Districts Amendments by “dismantling a congressional district that enabled Black voters to elect their candidates of choice under the previous plan.”
The district, which stretches across much of Florida’s northern border with Georgia, was previously held by Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat who lost in the 2022 midterm election after the redistricting process.
In the previous district, 46.5 percent of the voting age population was Black. Under the new map, the four districts in the area are 23.1 percent, 15.9 percent, 31.7 percent and 12.8 percent Black.
The map approved in the 2020 redistricting cycle was submitted to the Florida legislature by DeSantis’s office, after the governor rejected two earlier maps passed by state lawmakers.
Lawyers for both the Florida House and Senate conceded in court that the map did not satisfy the non-diminishment requirement in the state constitution. Only the Florida secretary of state argued otherwise, according to Saturday’s ruling.
The decision marks the latest blow to new congressional maps in Southern states.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Republican-drawn map in Alabama, ruling that it violated the Voting Right’s Act. In a 5-4 decision, the court affirmed a lower ruling that ordered the GOP-led state to create a new map with an additional majority-Black district.
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