Judge formally adopts plaintiffs' congressional maps, putting lawsuit to rest

Matt Dixon | Politico | 12/22/2015

TALLAHASSEE — The more than three-year legal challenge to Florida’s congressional maps came to an end in state circuit court Monday when a judge formally adopted the plaintiffs' proposal.

The Florida Supreme Court selected that plan earlier this month but remanded the issue back to judge Terry Lewis for a final order. His ruling Monday amounted to a procedural end to case that essentially concluded with the Florida Supreme Court’s Dec. 2 ruling.

The new map likely hands seats held by Republican Reps. David Jolly of St. Petersburg and Dan Webster of Orlando to Democrats.

It also puts Tallahassee Democrat Gwen Graham in a difficult district that now seeps into North Central Florida, scooping up large swaths of Republican voters.

The lawsuit was won by the same coalition of plaintiffs, the League of Women Voters of Florida among them, that's involved in a legal challenge to the state Senate maps.

In that challenge, circuit court judge George Reynolds will recommend a map from those submitted by both the Senate and the plaintiffs, but that issue, too, will ultimately be decided by the Florida Supreme Court.

Lewis' Monday order ends the issue at the state court level, but Jacksonville Democrat Corrine Brown still has a pending federal challenge to the new congressional map.

Her new seat would stretch east-west from Tallahassee to Jacksonville, rather than snaking south from Jacksonville to Orlando. The new configuration would lower the seat's black voting age population from 50 to 45 percent, which she says is at odds with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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