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Judge blocks DeSantis-drawn congressional map; governor's office files to appeal

The judge's temporary injunction, siding with voting rights groups, is on hold until the First District Court of Appeals makes a decision.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Following through on his announcement earlier this week, a judge has blocked Florida's new congressional map, which was approved by Gov. Ron DeSantis and drawn by his staff, by issuing a preliminary injunction.

But, the ruling is on hold for now after the state filed a notice of appeal with the First District Court of Appeal. 

The appeal triggers an automatic stay pending review, according to the notice. Plaintiffs in the case say they have filed a motion to vacate the stay in response.

On Wednesday, Leon County Circuit Judge Layne Smith called the congressional map unconstitutional because it breaks up a district where Black voters can choose their representatives. 

Smith on Wednesday explained that the Florida Supreme Court has already ruled that District 5 did not violate federal law as it was originally drawn, adding that there is little question that Black votes are diminished under the DeSantis-drawn map.

Smith's order granting motion for a temporary injunction was filed Thursday.

But, upon learning of Judge Smith's plan to issue a preliminary injunction on the map, DeSantis' Communications Director Taryn Fenske said the governor would "undoubtedly be appealing his ruling" — which is exactly what his office did on Friday.

Despite accusations from voting groups that the governor's congressional redistricting plan "deeply diminishes Black representation," DeSantis has remained confident that the maps will ultimately pass legal muster.

Plaintiffs said representation is at stake and remain hopeful their case will prevail by the midterm elections after Judge Smith issued the preliminary injunction.

"It is our hope that we can move forward with the 2022 election, preserving Congressional District 5, and giving Black folks an opportunity to have a representative in Congress," said Genesis Robinson, Equal Ground political director. 

Equal Ground is one of several groups challenging the governor's redistricting plan.

A timeline for when the court may decide on the case is still uncertain. It's possible the case could also reach the Florida Supreme Court. 

Following the judge's decision on Wednesday, 10 Tampa Bay received the following statement from DeSantis' Communications Director Taryn Fenske:

“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.” 

 

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