Florida Supreme Court rejects Senate's redistricting plan, upholds House's effort

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The Florida Supreme Court has declared the Legislature’s Florida House apportionment plan valid, but has declared the plan for Senate districts unconstitutional.  “The Legislature is now tasked by the Florida Constitution with adopting a new joint resolution of apportionment ‘conforming to the judgment of the supreme court,'” the Court said.

In an extraordinarily thorough 234-page opinion, the court voted 7-0 to validate the House maps, and rejected the Senate maps 5-2. The court defined the terms of the new constitutional standards and called out the Senate for being the worst violator, ruling eight districts as invalid, reports the Miami Herald.

We conclude that the challengers have demonstrated that the Senate plan, but not the House plan, violates the constitutional requirements. We therefore declare the Senate plan constitutionally invalid and the House plan constitutionally valid,’’ the court wrote for the majority in an opinion written by Justice Barbara Pariente.

Concurring opinions were  written by Justices Fred Lewis, Jorge Labarga and James E.C. Perry. Chief Justice Charles Canady concurred in part and dissented in part.

1:58 p.m. – Two stories about today’s developments, one from the Palm Beach Post, the other from the Sun-Sentinel.

1:41 p.m. – Senate President says they are “reviewing” court redistricting decision,

11:54 a.m. – Florida House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R-Miami) issued the following statement regarding today’s announcement by the Florida Supreme Court that the Florida House of Representatives redistricting map is constitutional and compliant with Amendment 5.

“The Florida Supreme Court has spoken loud and clear. Today’s unanimous decision affirming the constitutionality of the Florida House of Representatives redistricting map is a testament to our hardworking Republican leadership and their insistence to follow the law.

“We were continually falsely accused by House Democrats of injecting partisanship into the reapportionment process. It is evident now that their only goal was to advance their own political agenda, in contrast to our commitment to produce a constitutional House map for the people of Florida.  We followed the law and respected the will of the voters, and today the House Democrats’ claims and the attacks of outside partisan groups about the House map have been completely and utterly discredited by the Supreme Court of Florida.”

11:14 a.m. – More about how this ruling impacts Lakeland and Polk County can be found here. But, basically, “The court essentially adopted our arguments,” Lakeland City Attorney Tim McCausland said. “They (the Senate) will likely look at keeping communities together and much like we asked in the last process.”

11:09 a.m. – Senate Democratic leader Nan Rich: The court “saw the same troubling issues of discrimination and favoritism as the Senate Democrats” (Via Kathleen Haughney).

11:06 a.m. – A must-read article from the Miami HeraldSen. Don Gaetz session has gone from mediocre to bad now that the Florida Supreme Court sharply rebuked the state Senate for the way it drew its maps. The man in charge of drawing those maps: Gaetz.

11:04 a.m. – Districts ruled invalid all have incumbents: Evers, Gaetz, Gardiner, Gibson, Richter, Sachs, Smith, Thrasher.

11:00 a.m. – Speaker Dean Cannon released the following statement regarding the Florida Supreme Court unanimously upholding the constitutionality of the State House of Representatives map drawn by the Florida Legislature during the 2012 redistricting process.

“We appreciate the preparation, thorough review and thoughtfulness of the court’s response. Throughout the redistricting process, the House demonstrated a commitment to following the letter of the law, and I am proud of Speaker-Designate Weatherford and all ofour Members who worked so hard to craft this new map.

“We understand the difficulty of the court’s duty to review the application of new constitutional language.  We appreciate the court providing input as their guidance will provide a great deal of help moving forward.”

10:57 a.m. – Will Weatherford: “Our map prioritizes sound principles over politics; proud of my colleagues for producing legally compliant map … “

10:41 a.m. – The Florida Democratic Party today issued the following statement in response to the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling invalidating the Florida Senate map.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for the people of Florida.” said Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith. “This ruling confirms what we had anticipated, that the Senate map violated Fair Districts. We applaud the court for stepping in to implement the will of the voters of Florida. We look forward to getting down to the business of drawing maps that comply with the expectations of the people, as expressed in these constitutional amendments.”

 

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.