On Wednesday (May 11), Leon County Circuit Judge Layne Smith deemed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' redistricting plan unconstitutional because the new map breaks up one of the only districts in Florida where Black voters have the power to choose their representatives.
This ruling is in favor of the voting rights groups that filed a lawsuit against the DeSantis-drawn map. Voting activists argued that the redistricting clearly benefited Republicans and intentionally diluted minority electoral power.
Smith said he would issue a formal order in the upcoming days to ensure the map doesn't affect November's election.
Under DeSantis' redistricting plan, North Florida's District 5, stretching from Tallahassee to Jacksonville, was expected to be dismantled affecting its largely Black population.
Smith said in a statement, “The district that has since been enacted and signed into law by the governor does disperse 367,000 African American votes between four different districts." The judge continued, “The African American population is no way near a plurality or a majority.”
DeSantis' camp described the redistricting as neutral on race and party affiliation. However, Smith, who ruled against the map, said the plan did not abide by the state constitution.