Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 23, 2014

Judge Tosses Two House Districts in Florida Redistricting Trial

A state judge ruled Thursday two Florida House districts violated the state’s constitution, following a dramatic trial questioning the state’s recently redrawn boundaries following the 2010 U.S. Census.

It is still unclear whether the ruling will affect the 2014 elections.

Judge Terry Lewis ruled the 5th and 10th Districts, held by Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown and Republican Rep. Daniel Webster, respectively, violated the state constitution’s Fair District Amendments. He said the districts violated the 2010 amendments because they are not compact and were drawn to favor the Republican Party. The judge had some strong words for the Republican operatives and consultants that he ruled influenced the redistricting process.

“They made a mockery of the legislature’s proclaimed transparent and open process of redistricting by doing all of this in the shadow of that process,” the judge continued, “utilizing the access it gave them to decision makers, but going to great lengths to conceal from the public their plan and their participation in it.”

A Democratic source familiar with state party politics said that party attorneys will be digesting the ruling into the night Thursday and Friday. The key question, the source said, was how much the changes to the two districts will affect the other seats.

The 5th District includes parts of Orlando and extends north to Jacksonville. The 10th District includes neighboring Orlando territory and the area west of the city.

David King, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told CQ Roll Call in a phone interview Thursday evening the ruling “will have an impact on the districts in central Florida. That was one of major areas we had focused on in the trial.”

Dr. Michael McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida, said in a Thursday phone interview that redrawing those two districts would likely have a ripple effect in central Florida and could affect other areas of the state.

While there are a number of possible scenarios, he speculated a number of the districts in the north and central part of the state would be affected. “That’s probably where you’re going to see the largest effect,” said McDonald.

The professor added the changes could also impact the western part of the state. The redistricting is “going to likely ripple all the way over to 13,” said McDonald, referring to the St. Petersburg and Clearwater-based coastal district where Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., won a contested special election earlier this year.

But the question remains whether the districts will have to be redrawn for the 2014 elections.

McDonald said that the judge would likely file a separate motion in the coming days to indicate whether districts should be redrawn for this cycle. King also said that he expects to be in front of Judge Lewis as early as next week to discuss the judge’s remedy.

McDonald suspected the quick ruling could be an indication the judge wants the map redrawn before November.

“I suspect that it’s going be something else because Judge Lewis worked on a fast track on this,” said MacDonald, adding, “I think that he’s going to do something here before the 2014 elections.”

McDonald noted, however, that “the clock is running out.” The filing deadline has passed and the primaries are scheduled for Aug. 26.

Yet McDonald said the anticipated appeals process could reach the Florida State Supreme Court, which could agree with Judge Lewis’ ruling but also rule that the districts be redrawn for the 2016.

King agreed that the case would likely be decided by the state’s high court. “If there is an appeal we will be in position to defend, you can be sure of that,” he said.

Abby Livingston contributed to this report.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the judge’s jurisdiction. 

  • guest

    corrine brown is one of the dumbest people ever elected…GO GATA… so dumb… also stated all latins/south americans looked alike with no repercussions

    • woodt

      She said that all whites and Latins look alike. She was trying to say she was colored blind. She was horribly not clear and apologized.

      She been pro Latin America from day one.

      • guest

        does that make her smart now??? have you ever listened to this lDlOT butcher the english language on the floor??? and shes supposed to represent people?? whoever has voted for her is either having voters remorse or is dumber than her. no two ways about it if you actually think critically, theres no way you could ever support this lady, corrine “SANDBAGS” brown

        • woodt

          Does she butcher it like George Bush did? If so just be happy she is only a congress women.

          • guest

            the fact you have to ask shows you have not listened to her… shes is by far the dumbest and that includes sheila jackson lee…

        • Layla

          Agree. Corrine Brown is an embarrassment to her district AND the Congress.

    • Gregory Williams

      Just imagine how different a person you would be if you were not a hater of women and minorities … did you press your robes and hood this morning?

      • guest

        hahahahaha hilarious

      • Robert

        What’s wrong with lynching subhumans?

    • Robert

      Corrine Brown is another illiterate knee grow loon.

    • Layla

      She has an opponent who is anything BUT dumb, Glo Smith. I suggest that you take a good look at her. GO GLO!

  • daddyoyo

    A huge step in the right direction. It’ll be too late for 2014 unfortunately because if gerrymandering in every state was overturned, the Democrats would be sure to take back the House, since they are ahead a few points in generic polling.

    • Gentil Aquitaine

      We know now the task the Brothers Koch will assign the SCOTUS judges they have in their pocket.

  • Gentil Aquitaine

    GOP: “WHAT?! We can’t gerrymander? How are we supposed to win?!”

    • Layla

      The same way the Florida Democrats do, by padding the voter rolls.

      • Gentil Aquitaine

        Face, it. The only way the GOP can win today (with its present platform) is voter suppression and Gerrymandering. It needs an ideological overhaul.

      • http://ndgoon.blogspot.com/ Goon’s ND Redneck

        Maybe the GOP can get 140 % voter turnout like the one district in Florida had.

  • Nobama

    This will not stop with the FL Supreme Court. Since district 5 is protected under Section 2 of the VRA (not to be confused with Section 5 that was rendered unenforceable), this is headed for a Federal 3 judge panel from the 11th circuit COA.

  • pitch1934

    With all the rhetoric beforehand, it is time to push for a constitutional amendment. such amendment should insure that all redistricting will be done by a computer program and the districts will be as geometrically correct as possible.

  • Zere Ochs

    Since competition is a process of adaptation and discovery, it is superior to altruistic cooperation for use in a vast, distributed, impersonal civilization.

  • Ronda Astardly

    It is impossible to judge another person’s merit correctly unless we fully understand, among other things, their knowledge, talents, intellect, and ability to persist on tough tasks.

  • yesIDeeClaire

    It’s important to remember that the 18 collectivist tendencies imported by Stuart Chase included a centralized government with an executive arm growing at the expense of the others.

  • Bob Stauskas

    While liberty is compatible with restrictions upon certain actions, liberty is not present where authorization is required more than not.

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