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Florida’s congressional map under fire in court

by John Kennedy | April 18th, 2012

The Legislature’s plan for redrawing congressional boundaries was derided Wednesday for packing minority voters into districts and protecting Republican incumbents in arguments by lawyers for the Florida Democratic Party and allied organizations before a Leon County judge.

Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis is expected to rule quickly in the challenge, which was filed in February when the Legislature completed the plan for drawing 27 Florida congressional districts. Lewis has acknowledged that any delay could interfere with candidate qualifying in Florida, which is scheduled to begin June 4.

George Meros, attorney for the House and Senate, defended the congressional plan. He said it meets Voting Rights Act standards, along with Florida’s voter-approved constitutional amendments which require that districts be compact and drawn without concern for incumbents or parties.

Meros said opponents are disputing that the proposed boundaries and recommending they be redrawn to “disperse” black, Democratic-leaning voters into neighboring, white-dominated districts where their influence would be diminished.

Meros said Democrats were pushing for a “black diaspora” that would reduce black voting population, likely in violation of federal law.

“If they are reduced, there will be litigation,” Meros said.

The Florida Democratic Party, League of Women Voters, La Raza and Common Cause-Florida filed their lawsuit immediately after the Legislature approved new congressional boundaries. The state Supreme Court has since upheld the Legislature’s plan for redrawing House seats, but rejected the Senate’s remapping as designed to protect incumbents and preserve Republican control of that chamber.

The Legislature redrew the Senate plan. That proposal is scheduled to be argued Friday before the Florida Supreme Court.

Marc Elias, attorney for voters backed by the Florida Democratic Party, criticized the congressional district plan, saying it was built on the current map created in 2002 that left Florida “the most gerrymandered state in the country.” In repacking minority voters into districts, lawmakers failed to provide any analysis that showed the practice was needed.

“We started with a gerrymandered plan and we continue in 2012 with a Republican Legislature’s gerrymandered plan,” Elias said.

7 Responses to “Florida’s congressional map under fire in court”

  1. Bill Neubauer Says:

    1. To me, to expect the courts to do the redistricting is one for which the judges have no expertise as noted by the fact that redistricting has been dragged out for so long.
    2. I know I am swimming upstream; habits are difficult, if not impossible. to break. But nothing can keep me from dreaming that if the courts are going to do the redistricting, THEY WILL BE TOTALLY COLOR BLIND. This jockeying for political advantage is deplorable at best.

  2. JustMeee Says:

    It shouldn’t be hard to develop a computer program that draws districts based on population density and natural and geographic boundaries, and NOTHING ELSE! But NO politician wants that to happen! Wankers!

  3. bob Says:


    So you are in support of the judiciary taking control over a legislative function? Its a slippery slope Bill.

    The original founders thought they should be made along the section lines which is basically a square grid across the country. But neither side wants this. The blacks democrats certainly want to keep their gerrymandered districts, because if not, they are likely to have little or no black representation for the State of Florida.

    Not sure why it is ok to gerrymander minority districts to ensure fairness, but then deny it to others. Maybe Florida’s pacific islander population should get their own district. All 10 of them get their own congressperson.

  4. Downtown Danny Says:

    We voted to make districts fair and simple – Republicans completely ignored the will of Florida residents and did the same thing we voted against – created gerrymandered districts that serve their own interest.
    Remember the bullet train we voted for? Republicans ignored that too.
    And they rail against Castro and dictators in other nations – look what they do themselves.

  5. Rich Says:

    The republicans know their only chance of beating Obama is to limit the power of the minority vote, and will stop at nothing to accomplish their goal, in every republican controlled state they have passed ridiculous voter registration laws aimed at older and minority voters, the republicans who represent big business and the very rich are the scum of the earth and like their hero Ted Nugent say’s need to have their heads cut off.

  6. Sick N TIred Says:

    The Republican Party in Florida is OUT OF CONTROL, and now they think they can weasel their way thru technicalities to veil their ulterior motives. Which part of “require that districts be compact and drawn without concern for incumbents or parties” doesn’t the Republican led Legislature understand????!!!!???? Let the non partisan groups draw the maps and follow the will of the PEOPLE not the Party!

  7. Roy L. Bryant Says:

    If the Republicans were as anti-everybody and everything as you want to pretend, they would follow those previously-mentioned section lines and then there would be no black district, no latino district, no homosexual district, no anybody district, only compact square-cornered districts, regardless of the demographics, and then the extreme leftwing eletist-collectivists would claim the Republicans had gerrymandered out everybody that they want to bless with special gerrymandering.

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