Florida Supreme Court Says Illegal Maps Contradicted Public Will

WJHG | WJHG | 07/10/2015

TALLAHASSEE— In a strongly worded opinion, Florida's highest court told lawmakers they did not follow the public's will in re-drawing the state's congressional districts.

But the decision is a victory for voters.

More than six of every ten voters told lawmakers in 2010 they wanted congressional and state legislative maps drawn without concern for party or individual legislators. Then, when the redistricting process began in 2011, leadership promised the most open and transparent process in the state's history.

"Every citizen was listened to respectfully," Sen. Don Gaetz said.

But in a strongly worded opinion, the Florida Supreme Court said that was a myth.

The high court court threw out eight congressional districts which will likely require redrawing the entire state. The court found the districts were draw by Republicans to benefit Republicans. The League of Women Voters calls the decision a major victory.

"The message the court sent today, they sent our legislature to the woodshed and they should have," Florida League of Women Voters President Pamela Goodman said. "They gave them a firm, firm reprimand."

Rep. Jimmy Smith was the only lawmaker at the Capitol on Thursday. He told reporters lawmakers will get it right sooner than later.

"We are experienced at this," he said. "We've already had people who have, obviously, dealt with the whole mapping process. I don't think it will be a problem to come up with new maps when it comes time."

The congressional maps are likely just the first domino to fall. The same evidence that proved those maps were drawn illegally is set to be used again, when the state Senate maps are challenged this fall.

So far lawmakers have spent more than $6 million of your tax dollars defending the illegal maps.

Each day of a special session to re-draw the maps will cost taxpayers at least $60,000 and tens of thousand more to defend the new maps in court.

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