09 July 2015

Looks Like the Congressional Delegation in Florida Will Be Changing

The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that at least 8 Congressional districts must be redrawn:
The Florida Supreme Court took a wrecking ball to Florida's political landscape Thursday, throwing out the state's carefully crafted congressional districts drawn by the GOP-led Legislature and ordering a new map within 100 days.

In the historic 5-2 ruling, the court not only ruled the maps were the product of an unconstitutional political gerrymandering, it signaled its deep distrust of lawmakers and provided detailed instructions on how to repair the flawed map in time for the 2016 election.

"This is a complete victory for the people of Florida who passed the Fair District amendment and sought fair representation where the Legislature didn't pick their voters," said David King, lead attorney for the League of Women Voters and the coalition of voter groups which brought the challenge. "The Supreme Court accepted every challenge we made and ordered the Legislature to do it over.''

The new maps are likely to reconfigure nearly all of the state's 27 congressional districts, open the door to new candidates, and threaten incumbents, who will now face a new set of boundary lines and constituents close to the 2016 election.


But the justices reversed the trial court's order approving the Legislature's revised redistricting plan "because we conclude that, as a result of legal errors, the trial court failed 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 court concluded however, that the plantiffs didn't show enough evidence to support revisions to the whole map but ordered changes to eight districts "and other districts affected by the redrawing."

The court also ordered the Legislature to turn over all documents related to the redrawn maps and urged lawmakers to refrain from conducting secret meetings and "consider making all decisions on the redrawn map in public view."

In siding with a coalition of Democrat-backed voter groups, the court majority concluded that lawmakers violated the Fair District amendments to the Florida Constitution. The amendments were approved in 2010 by more than 63 percent of voters — over the objections of the Republican-controlled Legislature — to prohibit lawmakers from intentionally drawing districts that favor incumbents or political parties.

The court gave the Legislature 100 days to meet in special session to complete a new map, and ordered the trial court to issue an order that opens the door for it to review the final product. House and Senate leaders have not responded to the ruling.
It's only 8 out of 27 seats, necessarily, some of the other districts will have to change because of the facts of simple geometry.

It won't be enough to flip the house, but I could see the Dems go from the current 10 to 12-13seats in Congress, particularly since 2016 is a Presidential year.


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