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Politics

Florida Supreme Court Orders Redrawing of Congressional Districts

July 9, 2015 - 12:00pm
Redistricting maps
Redistricting maps

The Florida Supreme Court dealt a blow to the Florida Legislature Thursday, overturning current congressional districts and demanding the state draw up a new map before the 2016 elections. 

The justices ruled 5-2 to overturn the districts which were mapped out by the Republican-led Legislature. 

Justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston dissented. 

Under a 2010 "Fair Districts" voter-approved constitutional amendment, districts are not allowed to be drawn to favor a specific political party. 

Thursday's ruling means eight of the state's 27 congressional districts will have to be redrawn, as well as any districts bordering them. 

That could have heavy implications for the state's political landscape, possibly putting incumbents' seats in jeopardy as they struggle to cope with the newly-drawn districts. 

Opponents of the Senate maps and plaintiffs to the case, which included the League of Women Voters, were highly critical of the process, accusing Republican political consultants of having sticky fingers on the congressional maps. 

They contended the operatives were secretive in their doings, attempting to influence the process all while maintaining the air of non-involvement. 

The Florida Supreme Court agreed the maps were "tainted" by "unconstitutional intent" to favor the Republican Party and their incumbents. 

The court also ruled, however, to reverse the trial court’s order to approve the Legislature's revised redistricting plan. 

The Supreme Court concluded that legal errors caused the trial court to fail to "give the proper effect to its finding of unconstitutional intent, which mandated a more meaningful remedy commensurate with the constitutional violations it found.''

The Supreme Court will relinquish the case to trial court for 100 days to require the Legislature to redraw the districts on an expedited basis. 

"We emphasize the time-sensitive nature of these proceedings, with candidate-qualifying for the 2016 congressional elections now less than a year away, and make clear that we take seriously our obligation to provide certainty to candidates and voters regarding the legality of the state’s congressional districts," wrote Justice Barbara Pariente. 

After the districts are redrawn, the lower court will hold a hearing where both sides will present their arguments and evidence for or against the newly-redrawn maps. The trial court will then approve or disapprove the redrawn map. 

Several Democrats and Republicans will be affected by the ruling, including Republican U.S. Reps. David Jolly and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Democrat U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, Kathy Castor, Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel's districts would also be affected. 

Brown issued a statement shortly after the ruling, calling the decision "seriously flawed."

"I firmly believe that I, as an African American legislator, can understand and empathize with the issues my constituents confront on a profound level since I share the same racial and cultural background as they do, and have had to battle many of the same challenges and prejudices that they have," said Brown. 
 
“District 5 in Florida, and minority access districts across the nation cannot, will not be eliminated, particularly after the hard fought gains we have made during the last 50 years," she continued. "As a people, African Americans have fought too hard to get to where we are now, and we certainly are not taking any steps backwards.”

This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.

 

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen 

Comments

Hate to pee on this parade but, who else, other than the taxpayers HAVE paid for the most recent case of gerrymandering and now, this new task. Everyone can accuse everyone BUT, who pays the bills while those who are corrupted go without punishment, or even mentioned in the Nancy blog? Clean House and let's get all new blood in Tallahassee!

What is truly regrettable is the Court that previously found the Rep egregious gerrymandering to be unconstitutional failed to demand a re-drawing of Districts at the time. Not merely that, but the Repubs, led by the Gaetz boys, managed to deny the public access to their illegal shenanigans-claiming "trade secrets".Wonder if the Courts will now demand/permit release of all their damning documents.. bets, anyone?

All those candidates in the last election that had unfair-republican-drawn redistricting should file a lawsuit . It is never fair to redistrict during an election. I'm a Black American woman. It's time we women stood together and change the system of things in Florida and America. We have let men run this country and the black men have ran the churches the result devastation.

If ALL female registered voters, regardless of party affiliation, joined and were active in the League of Women Voters, perhaps women could truly make a difference.

Conservative women should join the League of Women Voters and instead of pushing a non stop diatribe of liberal positions on abortion, gun control, high taxes, etc, it might be a moderate group

When the League of Women Voters studied pro-choice (which included the right to an abortion), I was a member living in a very conservative, Republican area so that was also the make-up of the League. I was surprised that only a couple of us were anti-abortion and I was the only member willing to pay increased taxes to help care for un-wanted babies (I was a registered Democrat, a true minority there). That's when I learned that you can't judge all members of a party by it's perceived majority.

When the League of Women Voters studied pro-choice (which included the right to an abortion), I was a member living in a very conservative, Republican area so that was also the make-up of the League. I was surprised that only a couple of us were anti-abortion and I was the only member willing to pay increased taxes to help care for un-wanted babies (I was a registered Democrat, a true minority there). That's when I learned that you can't judge all members of a party by it's perceived majority.

You obviously are unaware of how The League works. Why don't you attend a meeting, or read anything that they've published around election time? All amendments are listed, then, how passage or rejection would affect Floridians. There ARE conservative members of The League, too.

The Court is right. The re-districting was in violation of the Florida Constitution, sunshine and criminal laws. Too bad AG Bondi failed to do her job.

Good job Republican "political consultants", and "operatives", you arrogant nitwits. Way to hand the Democrats their biggest gift in Florida the last 30 years. You should all be fired from ever working with the Republican party again. #arrogance #cleanhouseBlaise

Getting out of anywhere ruled by Kathy Castor the leftist would suit me fine!

Just shows the corruption of repubs and really the only way along with making voting harder they can keep power as their kind is dying off.-------------------------- And Brown should be ashamed backing rigging the districts. Minorities would get more power if not for her.---------------------------------- Let's just make not rigged tight districts will make Fla better as what we have now only believes in corporate welfare.

Why couldn't they just put a graph paper withbehind the map and make sure eac district has equal number of squares, just squaring the whole state in little squares.

A little explanation Laurie. Each district must contain the same basic number of people so as not to "dilute" the votes of voters.

If I were put into Congressman Deutch's district would make me happy, because when I would contect his office I would get an answer in a reasonable amount of time, Ms. Frankel takes months to answer anything,. She has been a terrible Congresswoman, a real do nothing.

You mean a male Congressman is more helpful than a female Congresswoman? Take away the right for women to vote. Proof positive that females are a terrible burden to the American people!

It's about time that the underlined corruption be recognized

Comments are now closed.

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