House Takes Redistricting Fight To Court

CBS Miami | 08/25/2015

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – The House headed to court Monday as the next step in a heated battle with the Senate over how to redraw Florida’s 27 congressional districts.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli announced late Monday that House lawyers asked the Florida Supreme Court to allow a Leon County judge to consider redistricting plans from the House, Senate and potentially other parties in a lawsuit that led to a ruling last month striking down eight of the state’s congressional districts.

A special session aimed at redrawing the congressional lines collapsed Friday after the House and Senate failed to agree on whether to amend a “base map,” drawn by legislative aides to satisfy a Supreme Court opinion that the current districts violated the anti-gerrymandering “Fair Districts” standards approved by voters in 2010. Senators wanted to make changes to the base map to consolidate eastern Hillsborough County into one congressional district and avoid splitting up Sarasota County, but the House balked.

The decision to submit the House proposal to the courts, though, could escalate the confrontation between the two chambers. Until now, the House and Senate have generally presented a united front in the face of the challenge to the districts.

“I want to reiterate that this decision is not made because of personality or politics. … While it gives me great pause to ask the court to decide this matter, I can assure you that the difference of opinion between the two chambers is both significant and legitimate,” Crisafulli wrote in a memo to House members.

In its request to the Supreme Court, the House would also reserve the right of the Legislature to redraw the congressional lines at any time.

“Judicial proceedings to establish a redistricting plan should be conducted without prejudice to the inherent authority of the Legislature at any time during or after those proceedings to reconvene and enact valid redistricting legislation, and any plan adopted by the court should expressly be an interim or provisional plan that will remain in place only until superseded by subsequent legislation,” said the House’s Monday filing.

Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis is set to hold a hearing Tuesday on how to proceed with the case now that the Legislature was unable to approve a map.

Senate President Andy Gardiner said in a statement issued by his office that the Senate still hoped the Legislature could work out its differences on the congressional plan.

“The Senate offered two resolutions to extend the special session and made numerous attempts to enter into a formal conference process to resolve differences between the House and Senate maps,” said Gardiner. “During tomorrow’s hearing, the Senate attorneys will convey to the court the Senate’s continued willingness to compromise and work with the House to fulfill our responsibility to draw a constitutionally compliant congressional map for Florida.”

The News Service of Florida’s Brandon Larrabee contributed to this report.

Legal battle over state Senate districts coming to an end

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

Senate won't appeal redistricting ruling

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

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

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

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

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 »