Attorneys for nine voters who launched the Leon County case last month filed a notice Monday that they were dismissing the lawsuit. The notice came after the voters last week were allowed to intervene in the federal lawsuit, which was filed by the groups Common Cause Florida and FairDistricts Now and individual plaintiffs.

A three-judge panel on Monday scheduled a trial to start May 12 in the federal lawsuit and rejected a motion by Secretary of State Laurel Lee for a stay in the case.

The legal moves came as Florida lawmakers prepare to hold a special session next week to try to agree on a congressional map as part of the once-a-decade reapportionment process. Gov. Ron DeSantis called the special session, which will start April 19, after vetoing a redistricting plan passed by the Legislature.

House and Senate leaders agreed Monday to let the governor propose congressional lines for consideration during the special session.

The federal and Leon County lawsuits were filed March 11, arguing that an impasse between DeSantis and lawmakers jeopardized the chances of reaching agreement on a map --- and that judges should step in to make sure revamped districts are set before this year’s elections.

The three-judge panel's order Monday setting a trial in the federal case acknowledged that lawmakers could approve a congressional map that meets DeSantis’ approval.

“But the Legislature and the governor have so far not seen eye-to-eye on this issue, so no one can predict with any certainty what will happen in the special session. And if the political process does not result in a new congressional map, a court will have to step in and draw the map,” Judge Adalberto Jordan of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in Monday’s three-page ruling. “For now, we need to put ourselves in a position to draw a new congressional map if the Florida Legislature and Gov. DeSantis fail to agree on a new one.”

Jordan, U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rogers and U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor have been assigned to the case.

Meanwhile, DeSantis on Tuesday reaffirmed that his proposal will include redrawing a sprawling North Florida congressional district that has elected a Black Democrat. DeSantis’ proposal would create a more compact district in the Jacksonville area.

Congressional District 5 currently stretches from Jacksonville to west of Tallahassee and is held by U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat.

“I think that what they'll produce will be something that will be acceptable to folks and obviously would get my signature if we're proposing it,” DeSantis said during an appearance at Miami Dade College. “It will, though, have North Florida drawn in a race-neutral manner. I mean, we are not going to have a 200-mile gerrymander that divvies up people based on the color of their skin. That is wrong.”

DeSantis’ move to take the lead on congressional redistricting — and the decision by legislative leaders to let him propose a plan — is highly unusual. DeSantis’ office released a proposed congressional redesign during this year’s regular legislative session that would have been heavily favorable to Republicans, including seeking to revamp Lawson’s district and an Orlando-area district held by U.S. Rep. Val Demings, a Black Democrat.

Whatever plan passes during the special legislative session is almost certain to face a legal challenge.

Lawson, who has argued that DeSantis’ arguments “will be soundly rejected by any credible judge,” issued a statement Monday that said he was disappointed in the “Legislature’s inability to fulfill their constitutional duties as elected officials without political interference from DeSantis.”

“The Florida Legislature is caving to the intimidation of DeSantis and his desire to create additional Republican seats in Congress by eliminating minority-access districts,” said Lawson, who was a longtime member of the state House and Senate before getting elected to Congress.

DeSantis has argued that the Legislature’s now-vetoed congressional redistricting plan violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, in part because of District 5.

A memo from Ryan Newman, DeSantis’ general counsel, said the Legislature’s approach would have been unconstitutional because it “assigns voters primarily on the basis of race but is not narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling state interest.”

DeSantis has also raised concerns about the “Fair Districts” constitutional amendments, which voters passed in 2010 to try to prevent gerrymandering. DeSantis has argued that the way lawmakers have interpreted the Fair Districts amendments doesn’t comply with the U.S. Constitution.

But the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida described the decision by legislative leaders to let DeSantis take the lead on redistricting as “dangerous and unprecedented.”

“The Legislature cannot abdicate its responsibility to pass constitutional maps that comply with the Fair Districts amendments,” Amy Turkel, interim executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said in a statement Monday.