Florida Judge Layne Smith lifted a stay on an injunction against his ruling related to Florida’s congressional redistricting case. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and the State of Florida appealed Smith’s original ruling that said the proposed and passed congressional redistricting maps were unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs, filing suit against the state’s maps, said the Florida Secretary of State could not prove the likelihood of success of the appeal.

“The Secretary cannot demonstrate she has a likelihood of success on appeal — indeed her position is contrary to binding Florida Supreme Court precedent,” plaintiffs said in a brief. “On the other side of the scale, per se irreparable harm will occur if the automatic stay is allowed to remain in place indefinitely.”

Smith wrote that Florida officials could be hampered in implementing the new redistricting maps if the appeal process drags out too long.

“The automatic stay rule is based upon deference to planning-level government decisions. Here, the issue is the Legislature’s compliance with the state constitution – not some run-of-the-mill executive branch planning decision!” Smith said. “Thus, the Secretary of State is due no deference.”

Elections supervisors have to begin preparing for the Aug. 23 primaries, and Smith maintained they would be compelled to proceed anyway with what Smith calls an unconstitutional map. Some supervisors have already begun filing briefs with state and federal courts indicating they will need a finalized map by the end of the month.

“It’s crunch-time now, and this involves fundamental constitutional rights,” Smith said Monday.

Smith ruled the maps unconstitutional “because it diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect the representative of their choice,” specifically referencing Congressional District 5.

Groups backing the plaintiffs’ effort to challenge the state’s maps applauded Smith’s decision to lift the stay.

“Irreparable harm will occur if the stay remains in place,” said John Devaney, attorney for the plaintiffs.

DeSantis and the state have said if their maps are not upheld, and the boundaries of Congressional District 5 are reverted back to the boundaries they have been operating under, then that decision will truly be racially biased.

A case has filed with the appellate court, but no legal movement has yet to occur.

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at The Florida Capital Star and The Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Ron DeSantis” by Federal Government of the United States of America. Background Photo “Florida State Capitol” by DXR. CC BY-SA 4.0.