Appeals court blasts redistricting injunction

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – An appeals courtroom Friday stated a circuit choose issued a “patently unlawful” brief injunction in opposition to a congressional redistricting plan driven throughout the Legislature by way of Gov. Ron DeSantis, giving any other signal that the arguable plan most probably shall be used on this 12 months’s elections.

A 3-judge panel of the first District Court of Appeal issued a 20-page ruling that defined its causes remaining week for placing a keep at the brief injunction. Leon County Circuit Judge Layne Smith issued the brief injunction May 12, siding with voting-rights teams that challenged the constitutionality of the redistricting plan.

While Friday’s ruling stemmed from the keep, the appellate panel sharply criticized the brief injunction, which additionally directed using a special congressional map.

“The temporary injunction before us on appeal does not just return the parties to the condition that existed before the subject matter at the center of the present controversy arose, i.e., before SB 2-C (the DeSantis-backed plan) became law,” stated the ruling, written by way of Judge Adam Tanenbaum and joined by way of Judges Harvey Jay and M. Kemmerly Thomas. “The order does much more. It gives the appellees (the voting-rights groups and other plaintiffs) affirmative relief by requiring the secretary to conduct the 2022 congressional elections under an entirely new, unenacted plan recently proposed by the appellees during the nascent litigation. In the order, the circuit court even acknowledges that it is crafting a remedy for the appellees until there can be a trial. The grant of this provisional remedy, unmoored from an adjudication, was an unauthorized exercise of judicial discretion, making the temporary injunction unlawful on its face.”


The ruling additionally stated a “temporary injunction is not a vehicle by which to procure a provisional remedy, nor is it a procedural tool by which to fast-track some burning constitutional question for appellate consideration in advance of trial.”

“There has been no trial or final evidentiary hearing, no final adjudication of the facts, and no declaratory judgment,” the ruling stated. “The pleadings have not closed, the state parties have not answered, and no one has stepped forward to set the matter for trial. Nevertheless, it seems as if the determination of the temporary injunction motion is being treated as if it is the determination on the merits. Yet, it is not. It cannot be. The object of a hearing on a motion for temporary injunction is drastically different than the object of a final evidentiary hearing.”

The appeals courtroom remaining week issued a four-paragraph order to place on cling the brief injunction however didn’t give a complete clarification. That brought about the plaintiffs to invite the Supreme Court to put a keep at the appeals courtroom’s ruling. The Supreme Court has no longer dominated on that request.


The case facilities on Congressional District 5, a sprawling North Florida district that was once drawn prior to now to lend a hand elect a Black member of Congress. DeSantis argued that proceeding with this kind of district would contain racial gerrymandering and violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The Legislature licensed DeSantis’ proposal to redesign the district, condensing it within the Jacksonville house. But Smith dominated that the plan violated a 2010 state constitutional modification — referred to as the Fair Districts modification — that barred diminishing the facility of minority electorate to “elect representatives of their choice.”

The general redistricting plan handed by way of the Republican-controlled Legislature is predicted to extend the collection of GOP participants of the state’s congressional delegation from 16 to twenty, in line with previous vote casting patterns. District 5 is these days held by way of U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat, however the made over district most probably would turn to Republicans.


Smith’s brief injunction ordered use of a map that might stay the present sprawling form of the district, which stretches from Jacksonville to west of Tallahassee. Using that map additionally would impact every other districts.

Smith, who was once appointed as a circuit choose by way of DeSantis, wrote that the plaintiffs had proven a “substantial likelihood of proving that the enacted plan (passed by the Legislature) violates the non-diminishment standard” of the Fair Districts modification.

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