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Court rules against Democrats in congressional redistricting

by John Kennedy | April 30th, 2012

Florida Democrats were dealt another blow in redistricting Monday when a Leon Circuit Court judge denied their bid to have the 27-seat congressional plan declared invalid.

The ruling by Judge Terry Lewis comes after the Florida Supreme Court on Friday upheld the Republican-ruled Legislature’s map for redrawing Senate boundaries. Democrats and allied organizations also had sought to have the Senate plan ruled unconstitutional for favoring incumbent Republicans and hurting minority voters.

Earlier in the day Monday, the House also announced that the U.S. Justice Department had concluded its review of the House, Senate and congressional maps and determined that they complied with the Voting Rights Act. The preclearance determination is a key step in assuring that the redistricting plans will be in place for candidate qualifying, June 4-8.

Democrats did not immediately respond to the actions. But Republicans cast the federal approval as effectively the end of the redistricting fight.

“Today’s preclearance by the U.S. Department of Justice signifies the final approval of the state legislative and congressional maps passed by the Florida legislature,” said House Redistricting Chairman Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel. “I appreciate the hard work of my colleagues and all of the input we received from Floridians throughout the process.  With their help, we were able to draw fair and compact maps that puts the interests of Floridians over the interests of politicians.”

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