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Senate redistricting plan rejected by court; House proposal OK’d

by John Kennedy | March 9th, 2012

The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Legislature’s plan for redrawing Senate districts was unconstitutional — a decision that will bring lawmakers back into a special redistricting session later this month.

Justices upheld the House maps. But the Senate plan was ruled lacking in the way senators drew minority districts and relied on “communities of interest,” in its determination of compactness, required under the constitutional amendments 5 and 6.

“We recognize that the Senate did not have the benefit of our opinion when drawing its plan. However, it is clear from a facial review of the Senate plan that the pick and choose method for existing boundaries was not balanced,” Justice Barbara Pariente wrote for the majority.

The court unanimously endorsed the House plan but rejected the Senate’s in a 5-2 decision. Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justice Ricky Polston said they thought the majority overreached in ruling the Senate plan was flawed.

The court also didn’t accept how senators had districts renumbered to affect which two-year election cycle they fall in; this would insure that most incumbents could serve as many as 10 years in the chamber, a provision also seized on by justices. Senators are normally limited to two four-year terms.

“Adopting a renumbering system that significantly advantages incumbents by increasing the length of time that they may serve by two years most assuredly favors incumbents,” justices wrote. “Further, purposefully manipulating the numbering of the districts in order to allow incumbents to serve in excess of eight years would also appear to frustrate the intent of the voters when the term limits amendment was adopted.”

House Redistricting Chairman Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, announced to the full House Thursday morning that the maps drawn by House members was accepted by the court. That drew a lengthy, standing ovation from representatives.

House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, later added the caveat about the Senate plan, telling lawmakers they would be returning soon for a special session.

The Florida Democratic Party, which challenged the maps as drawn to assure continued Republican dominance, praised the justices’ ruling — although they rejected many of the party’s arguments.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for the people of Florida.” said Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith. “This ruling confirms what we had anticipated, that the Senate map violated Fair Districts. We applaud the court for stepping in to implement the will of the voters of Florida. We look forward to getting down to the business of drawing maps that comply with the expectations of the people, as expressed in these constitutional amendments.”

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6 Responses to “Senate redistricting plan rejected by court; House proposal OK’d”

  1. The Real Perspective Says:

    Good and they can rid of the Nazzii Skinhead Scott

  2. osborne Says:

    to real perspective.
    Are you talking about yourself?

  3. Just Axing Says:

    Solution is real simple. The House plan is approved by the Senate. Democrats continue to whine. Republicans get elected. Boo-yah!!

  4. Bill Neubauer Says:

    I haven’t looked at the maps but of course woudn’t understand the fine points if I did. But I deplore this business of objections (in this case by Democrats) favoring one party over another. Whatever the final odds are, I dare to hope that both parties will, at election time, conduct convincing campaign pledges, in which case, it will be policies that triumph, not party manipulations.

  5. RPOF = RIPOFF Says:

    “”"But I deplore this business of objections (in this case by Democrats) favoring one party over another.”"”

    LOL!

    So the fascists gerrymander and the Democrats have no right to object?

    Honestly?

    Wow.

    I thought this was America.

  6. Ms Vicky Says:

    I’m pleased to see that the Supreme Court of Florida maintained its integrity. I suspect it will do the same when it agrees with the lower court’s decision to reverse Rick Scott’s absurd attempt to invalidate Florida’s state workers’ binding contracts. By placing a 3% tax on the middle class workers of Florida, Scott not only thumbed his nose at the law of the land, but he also displayed his hostility for teachers, firefighters, and police, etc.
    Scott and his sycophants are in for a BIG surprise in November, or perhaps they know it’s coming because they see the results of such errant behavior in the governors of Ohio and Wisconsin. They can run, but they can’t hide (and they WON’T win)!

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