Maps Under Fire - Capital News Service

Mike Vasilinda | 09/16/2013

The Florida Supreme Court was asked today to compel legislative leaders to disclose their conversations with political consultants before they drew new political boundaries. The once a decade redrawing of maps was supposed to be different in 2012 because of the Fair Districts Amendment, but the amendments sponsor believes lawmakers violated the citizen mandate.

By an almost two to one margin, voters in 2010 approved the Fair Districts Amendments, the amendments prohibit lawmakers from intending to favor a party or a person. Now the League of Women Voters, who sponsored Fair Districts, is before the State Supreme Court trying to force lawmakers to talk about conversations with political consultants. “The intent is in the Constitution, we should be able to inquire into all the facts relating to intent. But those facts include ‘what did you consult with outside of political operative?’” says Sandy D’Alemberte, Attorney LWV.

But state lawmakers say they are exempt from any inquiry into what they did and why. “That’s prohibited ground, that’s your position on this? It seems to me that other privileges don’t fall into the category,” says Justice Fred Lewis, Supreme Court Justice.

Afterwards, Attorney Raoul Cantero said forcing lawmakers to explain their intent would be a first. “If the court would order depositions in this case, they would be the first court in the country to do so. We just want them to do what every other state has done,” says Raoul Cantero, Attorney for legislature.

But the League of Women Voters has already uncovered evidence of conversations with political operatives during the map drawing process. They want to learn more. “Out of discovery from third party consulting showing that there was backroom dealings here that we believe show violation of the Amendments,” says Adam Schachter.

The case before the court right now only pertains to Congressional Districts.

It could be expanded to include state lawmakers if unlawful intent is found.

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