Indeed, the current representative for the 5th, Al Lawson, fits that mold precisely. But to maximize GOP fortunes and please his base, DeSantis demanded a map that shattered the 5th and transformed it from a safely blue district with a 46% Black plurality to a solidly red seat with a 67% white majority. That, said Smith in an oral ruling from the bench, violated the Fair Districts amendment that governs congressional line-drawing.
The Daily Kos Elections Team talks about how the MAGA civil war might be hurting the GOP in races across the country on The Downballot podcast
Republicans are certain to appeal, so Smith's decision may not stand. But it bears noting that the present east-west version of the 5th District was ultimately blessed by the state Supreme Court in a 2015 ruling following a successful challenge to the GOP's prior map under the Fair Districts amendment. The high court has grown considerably more conservative since then thanks to appointments by DeSantis and his predecessor, Rick Scott, though as Warren noted, "the anti-retrogression mandate is a clear and uncontroversial part" of state law.
Whether that proves any sort of obstacle to the justices is the key question, though the appellate courts could also rule—as the U.S. Supreme Court regularly has in cases that disfavor Republicans—that it’s too late for Florida to change its map this year. Practically speaking, however, the state has three and a half months to prepare as Florida’s primary is not until Aug. 23.
The remedial plan adopted by Smith leaves the rest of DeSantis' map intact, but several other districts are still being challenged as partisan gerrymanders, which are also barred by the Fair Districts amendment.
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