Florida GOP "Made a Mockery" of Fair Redistricting Amendments, Judge Rules
"Gerrymandering" is a big, strange word, but in Florida it describes a simple enough problem: The state's legislative districts are so artificially drawn that one of the nation's most purple electorates has a lockstep Republican state house that will never face a serious challenge. Four years ago, voters backed change. More than 60 percent, in fact, passed the two "Fair Districts" amendments, which demanded that districts not be politically drawn.
Photo by Michael Rivera via Wikimedia Commons Trouble in Tallahassee.
Take a wild guess how that played out when legislators drew up a new voting map. Actually, just take it from Florida Judge Terry P. Lewis, who threw out the maps last night and blistered the state GOP for "making a mockery" of the voters demands.
In his scathing opinion, Lewis says that the state GOP mounted a "secret, organized campaign" to draw up congressional districts in a "shadow redistricting process" with just one aim: ensuring a Republican statehouse.
"Republican political consultants or operatives did, in fact, conspire to manipulate and influence the redistricting process," Lewis writes in his 41-page opinion.
That's exactly what voters demanded an end to with the two Fair Districts amendments, which required un-politicized districting in both state and congressional seats. They both passed in 2010 despite the Republican Party spending more than $2.6 million to try to sink the initiative at the polls.
When the GOP met in 2012 and essentially did what they've always done -- creating unnatural, gerrymandered districts -- the League of Women Voters sued.
Lewis' ruling is a major victory for the challengers. He ruled that at minimum two districts would have to be redrawn -- Republican Rep. Daniel Webster's 10th District and Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown's Fifth District. That move would have ripple effects on a number of other seats as well.
Lewis' ruling is likely to be appealed and could end up being decided by the Florida Supreme Court.