On Wednesday, a Florida circuit court judge said he planned to issue an injunction to new congressional maps backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis as the Sunshine State continues to deal with redistricting.

With less than four months until the primary, Judge J. Layne Smith, who was named to his position by DeSantis, said he would issue the injunction later this week.

“I am finding that the enacted map is unconstitutional under the Fair District amendment,” Smith insisted, adding the map approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature “diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect the representatives of their choice.”

With DeSantis’ team expected to appeal, the matter will continue to move through the courts. In the meantime, the Democratic-leaning seat stretching across North Florida from Gadsden County to Jacksonville, currently held by U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, D-Fla., will remain intact.

“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,” Taryn Fenske, a spokeswoman for DeSantis, told CNN.

Lawson, who closed the door on running in the GOP-leaning district approved earlier in the month but remained open to taking on U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla., weighed in on Wednesday.

“I am pleased by the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court order to overrule DeSantis’ unconstitutional congressional map,” Lawson said. “The judge recognizes that this map is unlawful and diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect representatives of their choice.

“DeSantis is wrong for enacting this Republican-leaning map that is in clear violation of the U.S. and state constitutions,” Lawson added. “It is critical to maintain congressional district five so minority voters have a voice at the ballot box in November. I am optimistic that future courts will also do what is right.”

With the clock ticking until the August primary, the map approved by DeSantis and the Legislature, which offered the GOP a 20-8 advantage in the state delegation, continues to face challenges.

Kevin Derby
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