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Landmark Ruling: Florida Supreme Court Clears Way for 2016 Congressional Races

December 2, 2015

Pamela Goodman
President, LWVF

Landmark Ruling: Florida Supreme Court Clears Way for 2016 Congressional Races

Tallahassee, Fla. — “There are actions that become milestones in the history of a state and the Florida Supreme Court ruling today is one of those decisions that future generations will study and quote,” League of Women Voters of Florida President Pamela Goodman said after the court’s landmark decision, which sided with voters’ rights advocates.

In a 5-2 decision the Supreme Court validated the Congressional redistricting map drawn by challengers — including the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause of Florida — and approved by Leon District Court Judge Terry Lewis after state lawmakers failed in August to agree on a map.

“It took five years for the the wishes of 3.1 million Florida voters, who in 2010 approved the Fair Districts Amendment, to be fully recognized,” Goodman said. “The Legislature was unable to redraw new maps, but the Supreme Court by its actions has ensured that the election process can move forward.”

“From the outset, we have encouraged the public to submit proposed plans that can be evaluated by the objective criteria of the Fair Districts Amendment,” the Supreme Court ruled.
The ruling, written by Justice Barbara Pariente, also emphasized that “this case does not pit this Court versus the Legislature, but instead implicates this Court’s responsibility to vindicate ‘the essential right of our citizens to have a fair opportunity to select those who will represent them.’ “

Districts significantly altered by the ruling include District 5, held by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville. Her district — often used as an example of gerrymandering, currently snakes down from Jacksonville to Orlando. It will now run in an east-west configuration. District 10, held by U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Orlando, will no longer include parts of Lake County and will be kept wholly within western Orange County.

In Tampa Bay, the map merges most of Pinellas County into Congressional District 13, currently held by U.S. Rep. David Jolly, a Republican. In Miami, the map creates new boundaries for districts held by Republicans Carlos Curbelo, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Frederica Wilson.

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