Judge strikes down GOP-drawn Florida congressional lines

The Hill | 07/10/2014

A Florida circuit county court has struck down the state’s congressional map and ordered a redrawing of district lines.

In his 41-page ruling issued Thursday evening, Judge Terry Lewis writes that the map drawn by the GOP-controlled legislature for the 2012 elections violated the state constitution’s Fair Districts Amendments, specifically in regard to the Rep. Corrine Brown’s (D) Jacksonville-based 5th District and Rep. Daniel Webster’s ® Orlando-area 10th District.

Passed by voters in 2010, the amendment prohibited state legislators from drawing new congressional lines to benefit one party or to protect incumbents. Democrats charged that GOP state legislators disregarded those new rules when drawing the new map after Florida picked up two additional districts in reapportionment.

The decision is certain to be appealed, and even many Democrats, who cheered the ruling, are doubtful that any redrawing could be implemented quickly enough for the 2014 elections. The state’s filing period has already closed ahead of the Aug. 26 primary elections. The judge has yet to order actions going forward to correct the map.

Following a nearly two week trial last month, the judge only found fault with those two districts. Still, his decision, and subsequent likely appeals, could have a major impact

on the rest of the state’s congressional lines.

“The impact can’t be understated, because it really forces almost all of the districts to be adjusted to be more competitive in Florida. Politically, we’re going to be seeing the ramifications for years to come,” said one Florida Democratic strategist, who admitted the changed likely wouldn’t be in place until 2016.

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