TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A new congressional map drawn by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' staff that could diminish the state's Black representation in Washington was reinstated by an appeals court Friday, a week after a lower court judge said the map was unconstitutional.
The 1st District Court of appeals ruled Judge Layne Smith erred when he ordered a replacement map be used for the 2022 election. The latest order means the governor's map is reinstated pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the map.
The DeSantis map would likely boost the number of Florida seats held by Republicans, while also making it difficult for Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson to maintain his seat in a north Florida district where nearly half the voters are Black. Another district that currently favors Black candidates is also redrawn in a way that would make it more difficult for them to win. The order is likely to be appealed to the state Supreme Court, where three of the seven justices have been appointed by DeSantis.
The ruling comes as the state gets closer to the June 13 to 17 qualifying period for federal office. The appeals court cited that urgency in its two-page ruling.