Florida Supreme Court Rules The Senate Ignored Voters; Violated Redistricting Laws To Protect Republicans
Tallahassee, Fla. -
The state supreme court has ruled that the senate has ignored the voters and violated redistricting laws put in place by voters to stop incumbents from being protected.
Under a law passed by Florida voters, new political districts should be as compact as possible, and not favor incumbents trying to get reelected. It also required the districts to be racially fair, and allow for equal chances and equal representation.
While the house completed their redistricting maps and were approved by the court unanimously, the senate failed to come even close said some observers.
"I cannot agree that there was a rational basis for the Senate to decide to turn a blind eye to population data when drawing their plan,'' Justice Perry wrote. "By refusing any attempt to draw more compact districts, while maintaining the required racial proportions, there is at least the appearance that the Senate thumbed its nose at the will of the people."
In his concurring opinion, Justice Charles E.C. Perry blasted the Senate for the sprawling, noncompact minority districts drawn under the pretense of protecting minority rights.
The court ruled in its 234 page decision that the senate plan "is rife with objective indicators of improper intent which, when considered in isolation do not amount to improper intent, but when viewed cumulatively demonstrate a clear pattern."
The senate is currently a republican stronghold, while the house is more evenly split with democrats and republicans.
As a result of this, the legislature will reconvene in a special session for 14 days to start over and will still have to send their plan to the supreme court for approval again.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that while the house had 38 incumbents at risk for loosing their job, the senate had none, and the districts meandered and twisted around in shapes that looked more like Rorschach tests, those ink blots that you try to identify something out of a random splash of ink.
The Florida Democratic Party, the League of Women Voters, the National Council of La Raza and Common Cause of Florida all challenged the senate's proposed map arguing it is designed to protect the republican majority in the chamber.
The court also concluded that the Senate's decision to renumber districts, giving some members longer terms than others under term limits, was an attempt to improperly manipulate numbers and "was intended to favor incumbents."