“Judge throws out DeSantis congressional map, orders new map drawn by expert”

Miami Herald:

In a swift reversal of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ bold political gambit, a Leon County Circuit Court judge on Wednesday threw out the new congressional map drawn by the governor and approved by legislators, ordering a new map drawn by a Harvard expert to be put in place. Judge Layne Smith, in a ruling from the bench after a four-hour hearing, found DeSantis’ map unconstitutional under the Fair Districts Amendment of the Florida Constitution “because it diminishes the African Americans’ ability to select the representative of their choice.” S

mith, who served in the administration of former Gov. Rick Scott, was appointed to the county bench by Scott and later appointed to the circuit court by DeSantis. He said it would be up to lawmakers to decide if they want to enact a new map when the Legislature convenes for a week-long special session on May 23.

But in an effort to get precincts set for candidates to qualify, he ordered a map drawn by the plaintiffs’ expert, Harvard professor Stephen Ansolabehere, to replace the one approved by the governor and Legislature. Smith said he would release a written order by Thursday, anticipating the state will appeal his ruling immediately.

An appellate court could put a hold on the decision or certify it immediately to the Florida Supreme Court or U.S. Supreme Court for review.

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