Florida Senate passes redistricting bills - LWV & others say they'll sue

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In a press release issued by the League of Women Voters, the League announced that they, the National Council of La Raza, Common Cause Florida and four individuals have prepared a complaint to be filed in Leon Circuit Court that would invalidate those plans, once Governor Scott signs the legislation.


The defendants in the case will be Kurt Browning (Florida's Secretary of State), the Florida Senate and the Florida House of Representatives, and their respective leaders, Mike Haridopolos and Dean Cannon.


Among the highlights in the complaint:


he "FairDistricts Amendments" were intended to prevent partisan and racial gerrymandering, and to protect the traditional redistricting principles of equal population, compactness, contiguity, and respect for political and geographic boundaries. The addition of these redistricting standards to the Florida Constitution was designed to level the political playing field by ensuring equality among all voters and increasing opportunities for all candidates. See Brown v. Sec'y of State of Fla., No. 11-14554 (11th Cir. Jan. 31, 2012).


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The Legislature's Congressional Plan threatens to harm Plaintiffs' right to a fair and neutral redistricting plan, free of political and racial gerrymandering or incumbent protection efforts. It likewise threatens to deny Plaintiffs' right to a redistricting plan that respects the constitutionally required redistricting principles of compactness and respect for political and geographic boundaries.


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The Legislature's Congressional Plan is filled with unconstitutional political gerrymanders intended to favor one political party and certain incumbents, while disfavoring the other political party and other incumbents. The State's intentional and purposeful use of the redistricting process to secure various incumbents' reelection undermines the voters' will and violates the Florida Constitution.


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The Plan suppresses the ability of minorities to participate in Florida's political process by unnecessarily confining their influence to select districts and purposefully keeping them out of others. Under the Legislature's Congressional Plan, districts have been drawn with the intent, and result, of abridging the right of minority voters to participate in Florida's political process, in violation of Article III, Section 20.


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The Plan contains numerous non-compact districts in violation of the Florida Constitution and fails to respect political and geographic boundaries.

Democrats, good government groups and some activist organizations have complained for months that the Florida GOP-led Legislature is sabotaging the spirit behind Amendments 5 & 6, the measures that required that the redistricting of legislative and congressional seats in the Sunshine State be fair and contiguous. So it was inevitable that shortly after the Florida Senate approved the new maps Thursday, those groups announced they would sue.

On a 32-5 vote, the Florida Senate passed the new congressional maps, with seven of the 12 Senate Democrats supporting it. Lakeland's Paula Dockery was the only Republican who opposed. The legislators then followed on a 31-7 vote to approve the legislative maps, with Dockery joined by Mike Fasano as the lone Republicans to oppose the plan.

Florida Democrats immediately filed a lawsuit. Party Chair Rod Smith said, "Republicans have undertaken the sort of incumbent protection and partisan gerrymandering that 63-percent of Florida voters overwhelmingly demanded must stop,"

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