Florida court of appeals reinstates congressional districting map approved by Desantis

The map eliminates the district currently represented by Al Lawson (D).

Updated: May 20, 2022 - 3:05pm

A Florida appeals court on Friday reinstated a congressional map signed by GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, reversing the decision by a circuit court judge last week. 

The 1st District Court of Appeals in Florida ruled that the temporary injunction against the map by Judge Layne Smith had a "high likelihood" of being "unlawful."

In its ruling, the appeals court wrote, "Based on a preliminary review, the court has determined there is a high likelihood that the temporary injunction is unlawful, because by awarding a preliminary remedy to the appellees' on their claim, the order 'frustrated the status quo, rather than preserved it.'"

The new congressional district map that DeSantis approved eliminates a historically black congressional district that stretches from Jacksonville to Tallahassee and represented by Democrat Rep. Al Lawson. 

Last week, Smith ruled against the DeSantis-signed map, writing "I am finding the enacted map is unconstitutional under the Fair District Amendment because it diminishes African Americans' ability to elect candidates of their choice." 

Smith's ruling was soon appealed by the state. Following its decision on Friday, the appeals court was lauded by the governor's office. 

"We’re pleased with the First District Court of Appeal’s decision to reinstate the automatic stay. As the First District correctly noted, there is a high likelihood that the circuit court’s temporary injunction is unlawful," said the executive office of the governor in a statement. 

"To avoid uncertainty and confusion in the upcoming 2022 primary and general elections, it’s important to move forward expeditiously to implement the congressional map passed by the legislature and signed by the governor," it added. 

Lawson says he believes the case will move to the state Supreme Court, where the latest decision will be reversed.

"While I’m disappointed in today’s decision by the appellate court to reinstate DeSantis’ unconstitutional map, I am confident that the Florida Supreme Court will soon take over this issue and protect the rights of Black voters in North Florida," said the congressman.