TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A congressional district map advocated for by Governor Ron DeSantis has been struck down in court, with a judge ruling that it unconstitutionally and disproportionately dilutes the influence of Black voters in the area. State legislators will have to draw a new map to address the grievances perceived by Judge J. Lee Marsh.
DeSantis' map, passed last year after the governor rejected a prior map approved by Republican leadership, was criticized for breaking up a Black voter block which was represented in the U.S. Congress by then-representative Al Lawson.
Lawson lost his seat following an influx of Republican voters with the newly-drawn district boundaries, giving Republicans a larger portion of the overall House of Representatives. They hold a slim majority in the House as of now, with the 2024 election cycle set to shake up the balance of power in the federal government.
The lawsuit was brought against the state by a coalition of voting rights groups, such as Black Voters Matter, Equal Ground Education Fund, and the League of Women Voters. Defendants in the case included both chambers of the Florida state legislature and Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd.
The first attempt at redrawing district boundaries was completed by the legislature, all of which is under a Republican majority. DeSantis vetoed the map the legislature passed, accusing it of racial gerrymandering. That categorization is precisely the basis with which Judge Marsh has now struck down DeSantis' own map. Specifically, Marsh ruled the state violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a groundbreaking law which banned discriminating election laws.
The matter is not necessarily finalized, as the state will have the option of appealing to the Florida Supreme Court, a body which is made up mostly of DeSantis-appointed justices. The outcome of the matter may also impact DeSantis' ongoing presidential campaign.
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