Florida has to re-district, and they tried to use that to erase black voters, but a judge threw their efforts out.

A judge in Florida has ruled in favor of civil rights groups, deeming a congressional district map supported by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis unconstitutional. The ruling, expected to be appealed, represents a redistricting victory for Democrats in the Southeast and potentially opens opportunities to flip Republican-controlled House seats in the upcoming legislative battle for control next year.

The case centered on allegations that Florida lawmakers violated a state constitutional provision protecting minority-access districts in 2022. Specifically, they were accused of diluting the Black vote in one Northern Florida district by dividing it into four different districts. Civil rights groups acted as plaintiffs, arguing that the proposed redistricting violated the constitution, while the state served as the defendant, claiming that the state constitution’s provision was unenforceable under federal law.

Circuit Judge Lee Mars concluded in his ruling that the state did not prove its case and sided with the plaintiffs. He found that the enacted map violated the Florida Constitution by dismantling a congressional district that enabled Black voters to elect their preferred candidates. The judge declared the map unconstitutional and ordered the Secretary of State not to use it in future congressional elections, returning the matter to the Legislature to create a new, constitution-compliant map.

The legal path to this lawsuit was intricate, with DeSantis at the center of the debate. Florida gained a congressional district in the 2020 redistricting due to its growing population. Initially, Republicans proposed a map that kept a majority-Black district intact but later changed it after DeSantis objected. This alteration resulted in areas once represented by a Democrat being entirely included in districts represented by Republicans.

The ruling was celebrated by civil rights advocates and groups, emphasizing the importance of voters choosing their leaders and protecting voting rights. It is a setback for DeSantis, who had supported the controversial map and is currently running for president.