Supreme Court orders judge to sort out dispute over new maps

Associated Press | Dispatch Times | 09/04/2015

The Florida Supreme Court on Friday ordered the trial court to return to the redistricting drawing board, allowing it to review the rival maps submitted by the House and Senate and choose between them. “That is precisely why this Court remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings in which the Legislature was given the opportunity to correct the map’s constitutional deficiencies”.

The court repeated its position that the “the burden remains on the House and Senate to justify their chosen configurations” and it said the final plan will be a permanent map, not an interim one as the House suggested.

The court in July ordered the Florida Legislature to adopt a new map.

“The court’s order today makes clear the justices are merely picking up the slack created by the abdication of the Legislature and recognize their involvement is only a last resort”, Pafford said in a prepared statement.

Since the session, Senate leaders have put out feelers to the House about holding another special session, with Senate Reapportionment Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, offering a “compromise” map that incorporated most of the provisions of the House map, while keeping Sarasota County in one district.

A special session to draw Senate district boundaries already is slated for October. But the House and Senate deadlocked over the issue during a 12-day special session in August and the two sides have been unwilling to budge since then.

“The Court has an obligation to provide certainty to candidates and voters regarding the legality of the state’s congressional districts”, Friday’s ruling stated. But the House and Senate sharply differed on changes proposed for central Florida and the Tampa Bay regions.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, did not say for sure that the House would come back for a special session, but indicated his chamber would look over Friday’s decision thoroughly.

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