TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ bid to remake the state’s congressional map was dealt a major setback on Wednesday after a state judge said he would block the plan because of the way it scattered Black voters among several north Florida districts.
DeSantis personally pushed the GOP-led Legislature to approve the map, which boosts the number of Republican-held seats in the nation’s third-largest state. The map also dismantles the north Florida held by Rep. Al Lawson (D-Fla.), a Black Democrat.
The map is facing a legal challenge by a coalition of voting rights and civil rights groups that argues it violates the state’s Fair Districts standards — voter-approved anti-gerrymandering amendments in the Florida Constitution.
Circuit Judge J. Layne Smith, who DeSantis appointed to the circuit court two years ago, said during a three-hour hearing Wednesday that arguments the map violated the state Constitution were “persuasive” because it “diminishes the ability of African Americans to elect candidates of their choice.” He said he intended to put in