Florida Supreme Court Throws out Senate Redistricting Map Special session looms

Dennis Maley | The Bradenton Times | 03/10/2012

BRADENTON – The Florida Supreme Court ruled the legislature's Senate redistricting map unconstitutional on Friday, which was the last day of the 2012 session. The court ruled 5-2 that 8 of the 40 redrawn districts violated the Fair Districts Amendment voters passed in 2010.

The justices ruled that various districts violated the Fair Districts law by favoring incumbents, not being compact or failing to follow the prescribed methods for boundaries. Others were in violation for intentionally packing minorities into districts.

State Senate maps were particularly contentious in the redistricting process since term limits push many Florida House members toward runs in the higher chamber when their current seats have termed out. Fair Districts requires that districts are not carved to favor a certain outcome, are as compact as reasonably possible and use natural borders like city and county lines whenever possible, to keep communities intact in terms of representation.

“Today’s state Supreme Court ruling rejecting as unconstitutional the proposed Senate district boundaries is an exciting victory for the people," said Perry Thurston (D-Plantation), House Democratic Leader-designate and the House Democratic Caucus lead on redistricting matters. "As expected, this ruling confirms that the Senate map violates the people’s wishes to end extreme partisan gerrymandering. I applaud the court for recognizing the need to implement the will of Florida’s voters."

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