State Net Capitol Journal Constitutional Rights Updates: Florida Finishes Congressional Redistricting Remap Fix

State Net Capitol Journal Constitutional Rights Updates: Florida Finishes Congressional Redistricting Remap Fix

FL FINISHES REMAP FIX: Florida lawmakers completed their fix of the state's congressional redistricting map last Monday, well ahead of the Friday deadline set by Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis. The biggest changes were to Districts 5 and 10, which Lewis said violated the state's Fair Districts rules in seeking to protect incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown and Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, respectively.

But while Republicans congratulated themselves on creating a map — approved largely along party lines — that satisfied Lewis' order, Democrats protested about being excluded from the process again and predicted the new map would be struck down just like the previous one.

"This was a dog-and-pony show, and unfortunately that's what we're going to send back to the judge on Friday," said Rep. Mark Pafford (D).

Redistricting experts, meanwhile, said that if the new map is approved by the judge, it won't change much politically.

"A lot of furniture has been rearranged but it looks like the old house with the same rooms," said Michael McDonald, an associate professor of political science and redistricting expert at the University of Florida. "I would not think any incumbents will be defeated as a result of this plan." (MIAMI HERALD)

POLITICS IN BRIEF: U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder ruled this month that NORTH CAROLINA's election this November can take place under the voting law enacted by the state last year — shortening the window for early voting and making it more difficult for voters to cast ballots outside their home precincts — despite a legal challenge to that law. A full trial is scheduled for next year (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER).

— Compiled by KOREY CLARK

PATRICK SIGNS SWEEPING GUN MEASURE: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) signed a bill last week that makes the Bay State the first to allow police chiefs to bar residents from buying a rifle or a shotgun if those officials believe the individuals pose a threat to the public or themselves. Bay state police are already allowed to bar handgun sales to buyers who fail a criminal background check. Under the law, chiefs now have 90 days to appear in court to explain why they denied a license to a certain individual. Another element of the law requires Massachusetts to join the National Instant Background Check System, which mandates that the state send information about substance abuse or mental health commitments to a federal database that police can use when reviewing firearms applications. In a statement, Patrick said "our communities and our families are safer when irresponsible gun sales and use are reduced. This legislation moves us in that direction." (WBZ1030 [BOSTON], ASSOCIATED PRESS, MSNBC.COM)

SOCIAL POLICY: A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejects a request to stay its ruling declaring a VIRGINIA law barring same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. Same-sex marriage opponents appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court (WASHINGTON POST).

POTPOURRI: A federal court in MARYLAND rules the Old Line State's ban on assault rifles is legal. U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Baker rejected claims that the law is unconstitutional (BALTIMORE SUN).

— Compiled by RICH EHISEN

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