Return to News May 12, 2022

Florida Judge Throws Out DeSantis Congressional Map

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a decision released today, a state trial court judge in Florida blocked a congressional map proposed by Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and passed by Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature. In response to a lawsuit filed by Elias Law Group attorneys in partnership with the National Redistricting Foundation, Judge J. Layne Smith found that Governor DeSantis’ proposal likely violates the Fair Districts Amendment of the Florida Constitution “because it diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect candidates of their choice” in North Florida.

The ruling comes after a hearing was held on May 11 in Black Voters Matter v. Lee, a lawsuit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief after the Florida legislature approved a redistricting proposal that dismantled the state’s Black-performing 5th Congressional District, splitting Black voters into four separate districts.

Today’s ruling is a major victory for the plaintiffs, including Black Voters Matter, Equal Ground Education Fund, the League of Women Voters of Florida, Florida Rising Together, and individual Florida voters, who alleged last month that the congressional redistricting plan “would diminish the voting power of Black residents” while “intentionally favoring the Republican Party.”

“We are thrilled that the Court sided with our clients today by finding the DeSantis Plan unconstitutional and in violation of the Fair Districts Amendment,” said Elias Law Group attorney Christina Ford. “This ruling will help protect the ability of Black voters in North Florida to elect the candidates of their choice. Floridians deserve to vote in fair and lawful districts.”

While Governor DeSantis is expected to appeal the ruling, Judge Smith ordered the creation of a new map drawn by the plaintiffs’ expert, Harvard professor Stephen Ansolabehere.

Elias Law Group is a mission-driven firm committed to helping Democrats win, citizens vote, and progressives make change.

Read the decision here