Judge Doesn't Settle Bitter Dispute Over Florida's Redistricting Plan

LIZETTE ALVAREZ | The New York Times | 08/25/2015

MIAMI — A Leon County judge on Tuesday postponed a decision about Florida’s still incomplete congressional redistricting map after Republican legislative leaders failed to agree on how to redraw the boundaries.

During a hearing, Judge Terry P. Lewis of Florida’s Second Circuit Court said he did not have the authority to resolve the map dispute without the approval of the Florida Supreme Court, which ruled in July that the current redistricting map was unconstitutional.

The judge said he would send a request for guidance to the State Supreme Court on Wednesday.

While the Legislature has until mid-October to complete a congressional map, a draft of the redistricting proposal was supposed to be ready in time for Tuesday’s hearing. But a special legislative session ended Friday without a plan.

“I’m just going to ask them what they want me to do,” Judge Lewis said.

The State Supreme Court ordered the Republican-dominated Legislature to redraw eight congressional districts after ruling that the Legislature had drawn the boundaries to favor Republicans and incumbents, against the wishes of Florida voters.

The Legislature was sued in 2012 by a coalition led by the League of Women Voters, which accused Republicans of violating the State Constitution.

The State House and Senate each drew maps but could not compromise on a final plan, bringing the special legislative session to a bitter close Friday. The two chambers, which have clashed all year, cannot agree on how best to proceed next: The House wants Judge Lewis to mediate the dispute and perhaps draw a map; the Senate has proposed another special session and reaching a solution with the House.

“We could still get something done in the next seven to 10 days,” said Raoul G. Cantero, a lawyer for the Senate.

David King, a lawyer for the coalition that sued, said in court that there was no resolution in sight.

“It seems apparent the Legislature is at loggerheads,” he said.


Legal battle over state Senate districts coming to an end

01/20/2016
TALLAHASSEE - A contentious battle over Florida state senate districts is coming to an end. read more »

Senate won't appeal redistricting ruling

01/20/2016
Clearing the way for elections later this year with a map that could boost Democrats' numbers in the Senate, Republican leaders decided Wednesday not to appeal a Leon County judge's ruling setting districts for the chamber's 40 seats. read more »

Florida Senate won't appeal ruling on new districts

01/20/2016
TALLAHASSEE — Senate leaders said Wednesday that they will not appeal last month's court ruling that sided with a voters' coalition in setting new district boundaries. read more »

Florida Legislature won't appeal redistricting ruling

01/20/2016
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Legislature is giving up the fight and will not contest a court ruling that redraws all of the state's 40 state senate districts for the 2016 election cycle. read more »

Editorial: Republicans should accept redistricting defeat and drop talk of appeals

01/10/2016
For a brief moment last week it appeared the Florida Legislature had come to its senses and was willing to accept a judge's ruling on the boundaries for new state Senate districts. read more »

Renumbering state Senate districts triggers political scramble

01/10/2016
TALLAHASSEE — It may sound like a simple process, but the Florida Senate's random renumbering of all its districts statewide Tuesday touched off a series of complicated twists that one key lawmaker said only adds more chaos to a continuing redistricting saga. read more »