Another DeSantis Win: Appeals Court Upholds His Redistricting Maps

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Gov. Ron DeSantis should be all smiles this year. Florida successfully passed the Parental Rights in Education Bill, despite Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s best efforts to sabotage it, and the state has ushered through several other key initiatives. His wife Casey has successfully battled breast cancer, and he’s emerging as one of the big names in the 2024 presidential race. (Say “President DeSantis” out loud. See how it just rolls off the tongue?)


On top of everything else, an appeals court judge has upheld DeSantis’ redistricting maps against an effort to strike to it down and replace them with one drawn by a Harvard professor.

Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics reports that Judge A.S. Tanenbaum of Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal struck down an injunction by Leon Circuit Judge Layne Smith to prevent the maps, which had passed the legislature, from going into effect.

“Tanenbaum wrote in a decision that he would not even consider whether the map signed by DeSantis in April violates the Florida Constitution,” Ogles writes.

“Had the parties wanted this central legal issue addressed as an urgent matter in this court, or by the Supreme Court on pass-through, they could have (and should have) expedited a trial or final hearing on their four-count declaratory judgment complaint,” Tannenbaum ruled. “That would have produced a final order to be accorded a full appellate review, including consideration of the constitutional question.”

Related: The Trickle-Down Genius of Ron DeSantis

The main complaint against the maps is that they supposedly violated the Fair Districts amendment to Florida’s constitution. The plaintiffs allege that the new maps disenfranchise black voters because the maps, which DeSantis’ chief of staff Alex Kelly drew, redrew the district that Rep. Al Lawson (D-Fla.) currently represents. The new congressional map essentially eliminated the only Democrat district in the state.


Interestingly enough, Smith is a DeSantis appointee.

“The Secretary of State’s Office immediately appealed Smith’s decision,” Ogles writes. “Smith vacated an automatic stay triggered by the appeal, but the appellate court quickly put the DeSantis map back in place.”

“However, Tanenbaum’s decision made clear the appellate court considered Smith wrong not only in calling for a new map but also in considering an action before a full trial,” he adds.

Tannenbaum said that Smith overreached because the replacement maps didn’t pass the legislature and DeSantis didn’t sign them into law. The only other option, he pointed out, would have been to go back to the previous maps, which technically wasn’t possible because Florida gained a congressional seat after the 2020 census.

“A temporary injunction, if warranted, could only reinstate the former congressional map,” he opined. “It could never put in place a map that did not exist before the present controversy began.”

At this point, it’s not clear what the next steps are. The plaintiffs are asking the Florida Supreme Court to take on the case, although Tannenbaum’s ruling didn’t automatically trigger an appeal to the higher court.


But one thing’s for sure: time is running out. Congressional qualifying ends June 17, and elections supervisors throughout the state have indicated that they need the final map by the end of May, which isn’t merely quickly approaching — its’ already here.

Does this mean another DeSantis victory? Given his track record of late, I’d say it’s a safe bet.



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