Legislature’s attorneys argue against fast-tracking redistricting case

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“Immediate resolution” is unnecessary, say attorneys for the Legislature in fighting an appeal-court decision that could open the door for the Florida Supreme Court to fast-track the congressional redistricting case.

In a split decision this month by the 1st District Court of Appeal, judges said the case should go directly to the Supreme Court.

Under the ruling, in a legal move called “certification,” the Supreme Court would hear the case, bypassing the appeals court.

This decision is the latest in the protracted legal battle waged by voting-rights groups over whether the GOP-controlled Legislature violated Florida’s constitutional anti-gerrymandering law when it drew congressional districts in 2012 and redrew some districts again this year.

Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis upheld the new districts, saying they could take effect for the 2016 elections.

Filing a brief last week, attorneys for the Legislature urged the Supreme Court to reject the appeal-court certification and require the dispute to follow the regular appellate process.

Part of the attorneys’ argument points to the fact that redrawn districts will not take effect until the next presidential election.

“Indeed, the 2016 elections are 25 months away, and qualifying for them is about 18 months away,” said the brief, “which is more than enough time for the First DCA and this (Supreme) Court to consider the appeal, and for any potential subsequent proceedings.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.