(AP/The State) – TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Legislature illegally drew the state’s congressional districts to primarily benefit the Republican Party, a judge has ruled, and has ordered them redrawn.
Circuit Judge Terry Lewis said in a 41-page ruling Thursday that legislators relied on GOP political operatives who worked in secret to craft the final political maps adopted in 2012. In doing so Lewis rejected arguments from top legislative leaders that they had done nothing wrong during the process.
The landmark decision comes in the first serious test of the “Fair Districts” amendmentsadopted by the state’s voters in 2010. Those standards said legislators could no longer draw up districts to favor incumbents or a political party, a practice known as “gerrymandering.” (The State)
Now, the judge pointed that out that while his decision invalidates the legislature’s statewide district plan, not every district would have to be redrawn…
The judge did not agree that all the districts cited by the groups were unconstitutional. But he found that two districts violated the new standards: a sprawling district held by U.S. Rep. Corinne Brown that runs from Jacksonville to Orlando and a central Florida district held by U.S. Rep. Dan Webster. Brown is a Democrat, while Webster is a Republican.
Lewis said the presence of two invalid districts rendered the entire congressional map invalid although he said that doesn’t mean that every district must be redrawn.(The State)
..which makes sense; these two districts were the focus of the lawsuit and should they be redrawn, expect an additional 2-4 Florida congressional districts to be competitive as a result.