Justices to wade into Florida's redistricting fight

John Kennedy | Palm Beach Post | 03/04/2015

The Florida Legislature’s 2012 redrawing of congressional districts goes before the state Supreme Court today for arguments that could have a dramatic effect on the state’s upcoming political year.

Justices will hear an appeal by a coalition of voters’ groups calling for overturning a judge’s ruling that upheld the congressional plan recast by the Republican-led Legislature.

The move is the latest in a high-stakes political drama that has unspooled since lawmakers approved the congressional map just months before the 2012 elections.

Following a 12-day trial that ended last June, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis threw out district boundaries approved by the Legislature, specifically finding that the districts held by U.S. Reps. Daniel Webster, R-Orlando and Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville were drawn to help Republicans maintain overwhelming control of the state’s 27-member congressional delegation.

An August special session was held to rework the map. Lawmakers revised Webster and Brown’s districts, along with five adjoining districts in North and Central Florida and sent that plan back to Lewis, who approved it.

Lewis, though, ruled that it was too late for the redrawn plan to apply to this fall’s elections.

With the delay providing an opening, the Florida League of Women Voters, Common Cause and several Democratic voters who challenged the original congressional map, now dispute the revised plan.

They are asking the Supreme Court to review Lewis’ entire ruling, potentially revisiting arguments about the validity of the entire redrawn map.

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