TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A proposed Florida congressional map chosen by Judge Layne Smith has been put back in place.

A judge in the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the state to temporarily block the map chosen by Judge Smith on May 13. A third judicial action, again by Smith, has vacated that stay, putting the map the judge chose back in place.

According to court records, the map was reinstated and the stay removed Monday night. Going forward, the chosen map, drawn by Harvard professor of government Dr. Stephen Ansolabehere, will be the map used for coming elections, pending appeal by state officials.

State officials filed an appeal after Smith’s order on May 12, which procedurally enacted an automatic stay. After the appeal effort halted the map, Smith ruled again in favor of the plaintiffs – a variety of voting advocacy groups.

According to his latest order, “Floridians voted by an overwhelming margin to enact the Fair Districts Amendment to the Florida Constitution” in November 2010. That amendment gave the state legislature “standards it must follow” when drawing congressional districts. The duty of the judiciary is “to ensure that these constitutional standards are followed.”

Smith wrote in his ruling that the decision to vacate the automatic stay triggered by the state’s appeal must verify if “the equities overwhelmingly tilt against maintaining the automatic stay,” “the governments likelihood of success on appeal,” or “the likelihood of irreparable harm if the automatic stay remains.”

The court ruled against deference to the state, particularly now-former Sec. of State Laurel M. Lee, who resigned Monday to run for U.S. Congress, because of the jurisdiction of the automatic stay’s effect.

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

The judge also wrote in his decision that even if deference was owed to Lee, it is “diminished” when “equities are overwhelmingly tilted against” keeping the stay in place. Part of the “compelling circumstances” found by the court decision were the effects of maintaining the stay and impacts on the year’s coming elections.

“The Enacted Plan violates the Fair Districts Amendment” of the state’s constitution, according to Smith, and would “diminish” Black voters’ ability to elect representatives of their own choosing. Finding that the case has “fundamental constitutional rights at stake,” and that there would be “no remedy for a Florida voter once their constitutional rights have been infringed,” by the stay.

He said allowing the stay would result in irreparable harm, and would force “many North Florida voters to cast their votes according to an unconstitutional congressional district map.”

As a result, Smith vacated the stay and allowed Proposed Map A, which narrowly changes the map put forth by state officials, to allow Black voters to vote their own choice for representation in the coming elections.

In response to request for comment from WFLA.com, the governor’s office confirmed the decision would be appealed again, saying they “remain confident in our legal analysis.”

In a separate motion, Attorney General Ashley Moody, who is a defendant in the case as well, filed to be removed from the lawsuit, arguing that the plaintiffs had failed “to state a cause of action against her.” Moody’s brief essentially says there is no legal remedy that plaintiffs can seek against her, so she is an unnecessary party in the case.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

Florida among states with lowest depression rates

(STACKER) — Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the Nation…