Al Lawson praises court decision to toss Gov. DeSantis’ ‘unconstitutional’ congressional map
Al Lawson.

lawson edit
The incumbent Congressman's political future depends on the court decision standing.

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson praised a decision to block implementation of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ congressional map.

“I am pleased by the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court order to overrule DeSantis’ unconstitutional congressional map,” the Tallahassee Democrat said. “The judge recognizes that this map is unlawful and diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect representatives of their choice.”

Leon Circuit Judge Layne Smith on Wednesday said he will issue an order this week calling for alternative cartography to be in effect for the Midterms. He intends to say a map submitted by Harvard professor Stephen Ansolabehere should be used. That map largely preserves Florida’s 5th Congressional District in its current configuration.

DeSantis has criticized that district. He argued it was wrongly drawn, with race as a motivating factor in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause. The district stretches from Tallahassee to Jacksonville, connecting Black communities across a 200-mile region.

Those concerns prompted him to veto maps produced and passed by the Legislature, which later convened for a Special Session and approved a map (P 0109) submitted by DeSantis’ staff.

Smith, however, said the Governor’s plan diminishes the ability of Black voters in North Florida to elect a congressional Representative of their choice.

Lawson has heavily criticized DeSantis’ map as well, as it not only tears apart his district but leaves Jacksonville split between two districts where Republican Donald Trump won the 2020 Presidential Election.

“DeSantis is wrong for enacting this Republican-leaning map that is in clear violation of the U.S. and state constitutions,” Lawson said. “It is critical to maintain Congressional District 5 so minority voters have a voice at the ballot box in November. I am optimistic that future courts will also do what is right.”

Attorneys for the state made clear they intend to immediately appeal Smith’s decision. It’s possible an appellate court will immediately issue a stay and DeSantis’ map could still go into effect, or the matter could be fast-tracked to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The outcome of the case looms large over Lawson’s own political future. He has told media outlets under DeSantis’ map, he will likely challenge U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, a Panama City Republican, in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District covering much of the Panhandle. But he could also run in Florida’s 4th Congressional District to try and represent west Jacksonville.

But if the Ansolabehere map goes into effect, as Smith will order, Lawson could run for CD 5 under a configuration similar to its current shape.

Former state Sen. Tony Hill, a Jacksonville Democrat, announced on Wednesday morning he planned to run in CD 4 under the DeSantis map, but he is not expected to challenge Lawson.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


6 comments

  • Carpet Baggers No Thanks.

    May 11, 2022 at 10:02 pm

    “He intends to say a map submitted by Harvard professor Stephen Ansolabehere should be used.”

    So an unelected leftist in Massachusetts gets to pick what our congressional district map in Florida should be?

    That is not democracy, that is tyranny. Democrats have no shame in their naked pursuit of political power. This ridiculous gerrymandered district is a perfect example. It represents nothing but a power grab disguised as altruism.

    We see you for what you are.

    Reply

    • Carpet Bagger

      May 12, 2022 at 1:05 am

      Instead of Unelected, uneducated in politics (look it up) rightists under a practical dictatorship? Naw, I’ll trust the Professor at Harvard, over those idiots.

      Reply

  • Carpet Baggers No Thanks.

    May 12, 2022 at 6:12 am

    I’m not sure what point you are trying to make, but those who are elected are not dictators.

    Those who seek to rule based on “expertise” are in fact tyrants. They like to obfuscate that with fancy talk that appears to deceive people of your temperament. Meanwhile the West is being run off a cliff. Mainly by graduates holding various political degrees without a lick of common sense. Yet certain they have the right to tell us how to live.

    Perhaps you should consider emigrating to Taxachusetts. Puhlenty of “experts” there to dictate every aspect of your life.

    Reply

  • Edward Lyle

    May 12, 2022 at 11:18 am

    “The incumbent Congressman’s political future depends on the court decision standing.” & “this map… diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect representatives of their choice.”

    Anyone care to explain these comments to me. Does the Congressman need a Judge ruling or votes to get re-elected?… and Is the Congressman implying that only black people voted for him… or that black people can only vote for black people?

    Reply

    • Matthew Lusk

      May 12, 2022 at 12:12 pm

      Lawson has a history of inciting balcks to hate whites on page one, then on page two he sells blacks out to open border labor pools, the nazi international banking cartel, atheist Charles Darwin praisers, and the most brutal Kill My Black Baby, Inc. by Un-Planned Pregnancyhood. The NAZIs love Lawson.

      Reply

  • Matthew Lusk

    May 12, 2022 at 12:05 pm

    Judge Smith has erred, blinded by his own foggy personal integrity. Obviously each black vote will count 100% in a compact district as required, no violation. By pushing for special privileges for say race A—race B,C and D’s privileges would be taken away. What if the unconstitutional law said “all districts must be drawn so as not to diminish the power of whites to elect a candidate of their choice.” See, it’s obviously racist, so much so that all 4th graders can easily see it. And Smith has a law degree from FSU. Shame on you Judge Smith. Judge Smith, the root is faulty personal integrity on your part overruling simple intelligence. You are targeting the wrong error, the previous amendment is in error, not the recently passed map.

    Reply

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