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Judge Rules Fla. Legislature Gerrymandered U.S. House Districts

Circuit Court Judge Terry P. Lewis ruled Thursday that the state's 2012 congressional districts, as drawn by Florida legislators, are illegal.

A Florida judge charges the congressional district lines drawn by the Florida Legislature violated state laws. (Image credit: Flickr/Stephen Nakatani)
A Florida judge charges the congressional district lines drawn by the Florida Legislature violated state laws. (Image credit: Flickr/Stephen Nakatani)

A Florida circuit court judge ruled the state legislature’s redistricting of U.S. congressional seats violated the Florida Constitution.

Judge Terry P. Lewis of the Second Circuit Court in Tallahassee ruled the boundaries drawn by Florida’s legislature amounted to a “secret, organized campaign to subvert the supposedly open and transparent redistricting process.”

The Thursday night decision stems from two cases brought against Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner and Attorney General Pam Bondi challenging the state’s congressional redistricting.

In the ruling, Judge Lewis says the redistricting approved by the Republican majorities in Florida's House and Senate in 2012 violated Florida’s Fair District Amendments, which require redistricting irrespective of political party or incumbency.

Judge Lewis explains explicit examples of gerrymandering in the drawing of the current districts of incumbent Reps. Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville) of district 5 and Daniel Webster (R-Orlando) of district 10. 

Tampa Bay’s district 14, which includes Tampa proper and a noncontiguous portion of St. Petersburg, is also cited as an example of gerrymandered apportionment. The judgment says the lines were drawn to favor a Republican-leaning constituency.

Lewis’ decision goes on to state “the legislature had, in fact, destroyed emails and other evidence of communication regarding the redistricting process,” trumping Florida’s open government laws.

Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, Florida House Speaker Rep. Will Weatherford, and a number of legislative staffers are namely implicated for wrongdoing in the final word.

Reuters reports any changes to Florida’s congressional districts will likely not happen in time for the November midterm elections, when Gov. Rick Scott is up for re-election.
Red July 14, 2014 at 11:59 AM
Why not have the "new" districts revert back to the older legal ones until proper ones are drawn? Did the cheaters "forget" what and where the old ones were? Will the plotters of this scam see jail time?

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