Another skirmish in the battle over how Florida’s congressional districts were drawn played out Wednesday at the Florida Supreme Court. Sen. Bill Galvano emerged from the courtroom confident that the justices would uphold a plan approved by a lower court judge.
David King represents the League of Women Voters which spearheaded a Fair Districts Constitutional Amendment that the group said lawmakers violated.
King told justices that documents provided a peek “behind the curtain” of a corrupted process.
Here’s five minutes of his conversation with reporters after the Supreme Court hearing:
Q: You are trying to locate some e-mail relevant to the case.
King: Well, the missing e-mails are still missing. And it is pretty amazing that the legislature was able to scrub their files so that all of those communications with the political operatives disappeared. But for the fact that One of the political operatives kept a pretty good file we would have been out of luck in proving exactly what occurred in this case.
Q: The Legislature’s attorney characterized the “grand conspiracy” you allege comes down to a pool of 30,000 voters.
King: Well, that’s what they would seem to suggest because that is really all that the court fixed and that is simply not what we established as evidence at the trial.
Q: The Legislature’s defense uses a baseline of 2010 as a mid-term base line for calculating voter turnout in the drawing of the maps.
King: That’s a strange place to look. You got to look also at 2008 and now in hindsight you can look at 2012 because you also got a bit of trek at what they did and how it performed.
Q: The Legislature tended to look at general elections and you look at primaries.
King: You have to look at primaries and general elections but for minority candidates it is very important that the minority candidate will be able to prevail if you have the ability in the district to succeed in a primary.
Q: Do you believe it would be constitutional for the Legislature to draw districts with the intent to make it competitive among three parties?
King: The Legislature got to follow the constitution. And at this point there hasn’t been any ruling yet that says they have to draw a map with some other standard to make it competitive.
Theoretically if you follow the constitution you will get much more competitive districts then you did when you used the boundaries and used the districts the way they did with the maps they drew in 2012.
Q: It has been suggested that some of the maps submitted by your side were just as partisan as the ones adopted and that the courts did not seriously consider them. Doesn’t that sort of undercut your argument for an east-west configuration for the district Congresswoman Corrine Brown represents.
King: No, it doesn’t undercut it at all because the configuration makes the most sense. The court will determine what configuration ought to be considered but when you have a configuration that will result in two abilities to elect districts with 203,000 more minority voters that will be able to vote and the ability to elect districts. That’s a long way along the lines to a better configuration than the one chosen by the legislature that over performs historically for the last 20 years for the minority candidate in the existing district.
Q: How significant is Judge Lewis’s finding that there was no unlawful intent in the drawing of districts.
King: I don’t really think it makes much difference because the judge did 40 pages of consideration of what occurred here. He made a very strong case for the fact that the Legislature colluded – cooperated with the political operatives. And that sort of takes all the air out of the room when you hear a finding like that – the Legislature intentionally violated the constitution. That’s pretty amazing.