Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to bolster his political stock within the Republican Party, as he chalked up another win in federal court Friday.
According to Florida Politics, a state appellate court has overturned a lower court’s ruling against a congressional map redrawn by DeSantis at the request of state lawmakers.
Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal found that Leon County Circuit Judge Layne Smith erred when he ordered an injunction on the redistricting plan that had been signed into law.
The outlet reports:
Appellate Judge A.S. Tanenbaum, appointed to his seat by Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2019, said Smith should not have considered a request for an injunction from the parties suing Florida. Tanenbaum wrote in a decision that he would not even consider whether the map signed by DeSantis in April violates the Florida Constitution.
“Had the parties wanted this central legal issue addressed as an urgent matter in this court, or by the Supreme Court on pass-through, they could have (and should have) expedited a trial or final hearing on their four-count declaratory judgment complaint. That would have produced a final order to be accorded a full appellate review, including consideration of the constitutional question,” he wrote.
Rather, plaintiffs including a group called Black Voters Matter asked a judge to rule in favor of an injunction. Earlier this month, Smith held a hearing and determined that the DeSantis-drawn map violates the Fair Districts Amendment to the state constitution.
The outlet noted:
Smith, also appointed to his current seat by DeSantis, agreed with the plaintiffs and ruled the state would likely not win a full trial. He ordered replacing the DeSantis map with one drawn by Harvard professor Stephen Ansolabehere. That map retained a district analogous to Lawson’s current seat.
The Secretary of State’s Office immediately appealed Smith’s decision. Smith vacated an automatic stay triggered by the appeal, but the appellate court quickly put the DeSantis map back in place.
However, Tanenbaum’s decision made clear the appellate court considered Smith wrong not only in calling for a new map but also in considering an action before a full trial.
“A docket check reveals that the case still has not been set for trial,” Tanenbaum wrote. “Indeed, there has been no activity in the circuit court since this appeal and the circuit court’s vacatur of the automatic stay.”
The appellate judge also ruled that Smith was wrong to put in place a congressional map drawn by Ansolabehere because it had never been considered by the state legislature or signed into being by the governor.
“Of note, Florida cannot govern its Midterms on the prior map just on a practical basis. The state was awarded a new congressional seat following the 2020 Census, so voters in November will elect 28 U.S. Representatives instead of just 27, the number serving the state now,” Florida Politics added.