Appeals Court issues injunction against ‘manifestly illegal’ Florida redistricting maps | Florida News | Orlando

An appeals court said on Friday that a circuit judge had issued a “patently illegal” temporary injunction against a congressional redistricting plan pushed through the Legislature by Gov. Ron DeSantis, giving another sign that the controversial plan will likely be used in this year’s elections.

A three-judge 1st District Court of Appeals panel released a 20-page decision outlining its reasons last week for suspending the temporary injunction. Leon County Circuit Judge Layne Smith issued the temporary injunction on May 12, siding with voting rights groups who challenged the constitutionality of the redistricting plan.

While Friday’s decision stemmed from the suspension, the appeals committee sharply criticized the temporary injunction, which also ordered the use of a different Congressional card.

“The temporary injunction before us on appeal not only returns the parties to the condition that existed before the subject matter at the center of this controversy arose, that is, before SB 2-C ( plan supported by DeSantis) becomes law,” said the decision, written by Judge Adam Tanenbaum and joined by Judges Harvey Jay and Mr. Kemmerly Thomas. “The command does much more. It gives the respondents (the voting rights groups and other plaintiffs) affirmative relief by requiring the Secretary to conduct the 2022 congressional elections under an entirely new, unpromulgated plan recently proposed by the respondents in the litigation. nascent. In the order, the circuit court even acknowledges that it is crafting a remedy for the respondents until there can be a trial. The granting of this interim relief, independent of judgment, was an unauthorized exercise of judicial discretion, rendering the temporary injunction prima facie unlawful. »

The ruling also said that a “temporary injunction is not a means to obtain an interim remedy, nor a procedural tool to expedite a burning constitutional issue for appellate consideration before trial.”

“There was no trial or final hearing of evidence, no final judgment on the facts, and no declaratory judgment,” the ruling reads. “The pleadings are not closed, the States Parties have not responded and no one has come forward to bring the case to trial. Nevertheless, it seems that the determination of the request for temporary injunction is treated as if it were a decision on the merits. Nevertheless, it is not the case. It can not be. The purpose of a hearing on a motion for a temporary injunction is radically different from the purpose of a final evidentiary hearing. »

The appeals court last week issued a four-paragraph order suspending the temporary injunction, but did not give a full explanation. This prompted the plaintiffs to ask the Supreme Court to stay the appeals court’s decision. The Supreme Court did not rule on this request.

The case centers on Congressional District 5, a sprawling North Florida district that was drawn in the past to help elect a black congressman. DeSantis argued that continuing with such a district would involve racial gerrymandering and violate the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution.

The legislature approved DeSantis’ proposal to reorganize the neighborhood, condensing it into the Jacksonville area. But Smith ruled the plan violated a 2010 state constitutional amendment — known as the Fair Districts Amendment — that prohibited diminishing the ability of minority voters to “elect representatives of their choosing.”

The overall redistricting plan passed by the Republican-controlled legislature is expected to increase the number of GOP members of the state’s congressional delegation from 16 to 20, based on past voting patterns. District 5 is currently held by U.S. Representative Al Lawson, a black Democrat, but the revamped district would likely move to Republicans.

Smith’s temporary injunction ordered the use of a map that would retain the current sprawling shape of the district, which stretches from Jacksonville west to Tallahassee. Use of this map would also affect other districts.

Smith, who was appointed circuit judge by DeSantis, wrote that the plaintiffs had shown a “substantial likelihood of proving that the adopted plan (passed by the Legislative Assembly) violates the Fair Amendment’s standard of non-diminishment.” Districts.

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