Editorial: Judge should keep current District 16

Editorial Board | Sarasota Herald Tribune | 09/16/2015

Maps will be on trial next week in a Tallahassee circuit court.

One of them may determine the shapes of Florida's 27 congressional districts.

It seems odd to suggest that maps will be on trial, but a multi-year reapportionment in Florida has been as weird as it has been troubling.

In an attention-getting ruling handed down in July, the Florida Supreme Court found that the Legislature erred in 2012 when it drew eight of the state's 27 congressional districts. The court determined that the Legislature violated the terms of two "Fair Districts" amendments; both additions to the state constitution were approved in the 2010 general election by more than 60 percent of voters statewide.

The amendments forbid the Legislature from creating redistricting plans or individual districts with the “intent to favor or disfavor a political party or incumbent.”

The Supreme Court ruled 5-2, however, that the Legislature's congressional “redistricting process and resulting map” were “tainted by unconstitutional intent to favor the Republican Party and incumbents.”

The Supreme Court's ruling sent the Legislature back to the drawing board to redraw the congressional maps changed three years ago (redistricting occurs after the decennial census). But the state House of Representatives and Senate, controlled by the same party, could not agree on a single new map.

Congressional District 16 — which includes all of Sarasota County and nearly all of Manatee — was not one of the districts cited as deficient by the court.

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