Enough roadblocks: Do the voters' will

By Times Wire | St. Petersburg Times | 06/01/2011

Perhaps now House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos will hear the message that 63 percent of voters delivered unequivocally in November: Florida has new rules for drawing political districts to make them more competitive. It's past time for Cannon, Haridopolos and other Republican leaders to accept that reality and quit throwing up roadblocks.

The U.S. Justice Department ruled Tuesday that the so-called Fair District amendments do not undermine minorities' voting rights - as a legislative letter suggested - and the rules are cleared for use in 2012, when the Legislature will redraw legislative and congressional districts. Amendments 5 and 6 ban the Legislature from drawing districts that benefit a political party or candidate - a dramatic departure from the past, when legislative leaders had broad discretion to gerrymander districts.

The Justice Department's preclearance letter offers some clarity. Last year, lawmakers placed a poison pill amendment on the same ballot, only to be thwarted when the Florida Supreme Court tossed it off. Cannon is also party to a federal lawsuit that is attempting to get the congressional redistricting rule quashed.

There's just one problem: Both men - along with other legislators, the governor and state Cabinet - swore to uphold the Florida Constitution, which voters overwhelmingly decided should include Amendments 5 and 6. That's the new law of the state. Get used to it.

Copyright 2011 St. Petersburg Time

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