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Voting groups sue over DeSantis' new congressional map

A judge granted a preliminary injunction against the congressional map on Wednesday, saying it's likely unconstitutional.

TAMPA, Fla. — Update: A judge granted a preliminary injunction against the DeSantis-drawn congressional map on Wednesday, saying it's likely unconstitutional and diminishes Black votes.

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Several voting rights groups plan to head to court Wednesday morning in an attempt to block Florida’s new congressional district map, which was drawn up by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

That map was passed by the legislature last month during a special session.

“Sadly, this is not the first fight over fair maps in Florida,” said Shawn Bartelt with the League of Women Voters, which is one of the plaintiffs in the suit.

Members of the groups Equal Ground, Florida Rising, Black Voters Matter and the League of Women Voters held a news conference Tuesday to explain why they believe DeSantis' redrawn congressional district map violates Florida law.

They’ll ask the court to issue a preliminary injunction to stop it.

“Gov. DeSantis’ congressional redistricting plan deeply diminishes black representation and will have a harmful impact on black communities,” said Mone’ Holder with Florida Rising.

Jamil Davis, with the group Black Voters Matter, called DeSantis' move to veto the congressional map draw-up by the legislature only to substitute it with his own – unprecedented, “an act never made by a governor in this state’s history,” Davis said.

“And their decision to move forward with maps that violate our fair district amendment are what let us here today,” said Jasmine Burney-Clark with the organization Equal Ground. “And that is litigation.”

The injunction request specifically focuses on Congressional District 5 in North Florida. The redrawn map, they say, diminishes the voting strength of the region’s black voters.

It’s urgent that the court intervene now, they argue, before the 2022 election.

“You know you can’t wait for a trial in 2023 to get a remedy because the injury would have impact in 2022,” said the plaintiff’s attorney Olivia Mendoza, with the National Redistricting Foundation.

Attorneys for the state say the plaintiffs want to revert to — in their words — a racially gerrymandered map. That’s something DeSantis has argued violates federal law.

“We are not going to have a 200-mile gerrymander that divvies up people based upon the color of their skin. That is wrong,” the governor said recently. “That is not the way we’ve governed in the state of Florida.”

The request for the temporary injunction specifically focuses on district 5, not the entire congressional map, including the districts redrawn in the Tampa Bay area.

Those, they say, will be part of a broader lawsuit likely to be heard next year.

The groups say if their motion is granted, they'd then ask the court for a remedy that might include the map passed by the state Senate or any plan that would not diminish the power of the district’s black voters.