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The Florida Supreme Court threw the state’s political landscape into chaos this month when it threw out the congressional district map drawn by the Republican-led Legislature in 2010, as well as a revised map drawn by the Legislature last year, and ordered lawmakers to come up with a new map by Oct. 17.
Justice Barbara Pariente, writing for the majority, affirmed a lower court’s “factual findings and ultimate determination that the redistricting process and resulting map were ‘taint[ed]’ by unconstitutional intent to favor the Republican Party and incumbents.”
But the high court reversed the trial court’s approval of a revised redistricting plan completed last August by the Legislature because it “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 also concluded, however, that the plaintiffs had only shown enough evidence to support revising eight of the state’s congressional districts and others “affected by the redrawing” but not the entire map.
Legislators seemed to be at a loss about what to do.
“I thought the court decision was wrong, but it’s valid and we have to comply,” said Rep. Richard Corcoran (R), who directed the House’s August congressional district rewrite. “The last map we drew had bipartisan support in both houses. This decision was disappointing.”
But redistricting experts say legislators have very few options and very little time.
“Whatever procedure the state Legislature is going to adopt, they need to do it right now,” said Michael McDonald, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida. (TAMPA BAY TIMES, MIAMI HERALD)
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