Florida judge blocks governor’s congressional map

Florida’s congressional map has been blocked by a circuit court judge.

The new map the judge recommended replaces the map signed into law by the governor last month and reestablishes Congressional District 5, a minority access district currently held by Congressman Al Lawson, a democrat.

The ruling is likely not the final word on the issue, but the circuit court judge granting the preliminary injunction is seen as a big victory for the voting rights groups that sued.

Circuit Court Judge Layne Smith is recommending this map replace the map signed into law by the governor last month.

The new map replaces the North Florida districts in the map signed into law by the governor with North Florida districts included in the backup map originally passed by the legislature that had been vetoed by the governor.

“As I understand proposed plan A would affect the least number of counties and I think the least number of precincts,” said Smith.

Smith found the groups suing the state are likely to prevail in their claims that the governor’s map unconstitutionally diminishes Black voting strength in North Florida.

The district connects Black voting populations spanning from Tallahassee to Jacksonville’s urban core.

“Because without it we’re oftentimes not listened to,” said Nixon.

When the state inevitably appeals to the ruling, it will automatically be put on hold.

Judge Smith could technically overrule the automatic stay but indicated he wasn’t inclined to do so.

That means at least for now, the maps approved by the governor will stay in place, pending a decision from the First District Court of Appeal or even potentially the Florida Supreme Court.

Cecile Scoon, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, which is a plaintiff in the case, said she’s confident Wednesday’s ruling will ultimately be upheld.

“The law that was violated is very simple and clear. You shall not diminish minority voting strength and the governor himself has admitted that his maps do diminish,” said Scoon.

The governor’s office said in a statement it will appeal the ruling, adding it’s confident its map passes legal muster.

“As Judge Smith implied, these complex constitutional matters of law were always going to be decided at the appellate level. We will undoubtedly be appealing his ruling and are confident the constitutional map enacted by the Florida legislature and signed into law passes legal muster. We look forward to defending it,” said the governor’s Communications Director Taryn Fenske.

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