Judge J. Layne Smith, a DeSantis appointee to the 2nd Circuit Court of Florida, said during a hearing that he intended to issue an order granting an injunction that would prevent the map from going into effect. Smith said the map violates the state constitution “because it diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect the representative of their choice.”
The order could come as soon as Thursday. An appeal by the state is expected.
DeSantis contended that Florida’s 5th Congressional District, currently represented by Democrat Al Lawson, was unconstitutional because it stretched 150 miles to connect from Tallahassee to Jacksonville.
But Smith during the hearing said the district had historical roots in Black communities along the Florida-Georgia border once populated with plantations. He added that his hands of him were tied by the precedent set by the state Supreme Court, which last decade set the district boundaries after years of legal battles, and the state constitution, which says a reapportionment plan cannot diminish the ability of minority residents ” to elect representatives of their choice.”
Smith suggested the DeSantis vetoed maps could serve as the basis for maps used in the 2022 election.
DeSantis appointed Smith to the circuit court in 2020. Smith previously served a county judge appointed in 2015 by then-Gov. Rick Scott, who, like DeSantis, is a Republican.
This headline and story have been updated.