Friday, May 13, 2022

Judge blocks voting map favored by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. (WaPo)

We, the People of Florida, voted for Fair Districts on November 2, 2010, adopting two Fair Districts Amendments. Amendment 6, for Congressional Districts, passed with the votes of 3,153,199 of us (63.97%). 

Insipid insurrectionist Governor RON DeSANTIS and the Florida Legislature enacted Congressional Districts violating our State Constitution. 

Now Judge Layne Smith has enforced our State Constitution.  This is a triumph  of the Rule of Law.

Fun fact: Judge Smith ruled against the Governor who appointed him to the bench in Tallahassee (Leon County).  

Three cheers for Judge Smith for vindicating the votes of people of the State of Florida, whose constitutional amendments been heard and heeded by the judiciary. 

Our Boy Governor, RONALD DION DeSANTIS, chose Judge Layne Smith from a list of qualified candidates from the Florida Judicial Nominating Commission.  Judge Smith has honored his oath, and ruled that the Governor's and Legislature's disgusting disenfranchisement of African-American. voters in North Florida is illegal, unconstitutional and uenforceable.  

As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day on July 4, I am reminded of what Ben Franklin said in 1787 to the lady who asked him about our newly designed American form of government, which the framers of our Constitution had just decided: 

"It's a republic, madam, if you can keep it," Dr. Franklin said.

From The Washington Post:

Judge blocks voting map favored by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orland in February. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

A Florida trial court judge on Wednesday blocked a congressional map favored by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) that would wipe out a voting district in North Florida represented by a Black Democrat.

Leon County Circuit Judge Layne Smith said the map drawn by DeSantis’s staff is unconstitutional under Florida’s Fair District Amendment because it reduces the impact of 370,000 Black voters in eight mostly rural counties.

“It diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect the representative of their choice,” Smith said.

Smith, a DeSantis appointee, said he would issue his formal ruling this week, noting that timing is crucial: Candidates hoping to run in the state’s 28 congressional districts face a June 17 qualifying deadline.

A DeSantis spokeswoman said the governor would appeal Smith’s order.

The 5th District was drawn by the Florida Supreme Court in 2015 and left largely intact by state legislators in this year’s once-a-decade map revision. It follows the Florida-Georgia state line from Jacksonville west to the small town of Quincy, encompassing counties with some of the highest percentages of Black voters in the state. The district is represented by Al Lawson, a Democrat who in 2016 became the first Black person since Reconstruction to represent most of those counties.

This year, in the midst of a pressure campaign from Donald Trump’s former senior adviser, Stephen K. Bannon, DeSantis proposed his own map that eliminates the 5th District — a first for a Florida governor. He later vetoed the maps submitted by legislators and called them back for a special session to pass his map, which they did last month.

The DeSantis map also shrinks another district held by a Black Democrat in central Florida. In a good political year for Republicans, as this year is expected to be, Republicans could win 20 out of 28 seats in a state Trump won by just three percentage points.

This week’s decision only impacts the North Florida district.

DeSantis communications director Taryn Fenske said that “these complex constitutional matters of law” were destined for appellate review.

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,” Fenske wrote in a statement. “We look forward to defending it.”

Matthew Isbell, a Democratic redistricting expert in Florida, said he expects DeSantis and state officials will take their time in filing an appeal, hoping to “run out the clock” and get so close to elections that judges will be leery of changing the maps.

“This is all about Ron DeSantis trying to push this image of being a super conservative warrior,” Isbell said. “Conservatives were clamoring for a more Republican redistricting map, so one way to do that is to carve up District 5, make all of North Florida Republican and throw Black voters under the bus.”

Colby Itkowitz and Michael Scherer contributed to this report.

Lori Rozsa is a reporter based in Florida who covers the state for The Washington Post. She is a former correspondent for People magazine and a former reporter and bureau chief for the Miami Herald. 

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