- Jul 11, 2003
A small win for the people.
Floridas congressional districts are some of the most GOP-friendly in the country. Although President Obama won a narrow victory over Mitt Romney in Florida during the 2012 presidential election, Republicans control 17 of the states 27 congressional districts. That means that, even though Obama won a majority of the votes cast by Floridians in 2012, Romneys Republican Party controls nearly two-thirds of Floridas U.S. House delegation.
On Thursday, a Florida trial court held that the congressional maps that produced this lopsided result violate the states constitution. Under an amendment added to the Florida Constitution in 2010, [n]o apportionment plan or district shall be drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent. The amendment also provides protection against certain kinds of racial gerrymanders, and it establishes a preference for districts that are compact and utilize existing political and geographical boundaries.
Judge Terry P. Lewiss opinion reaches several significant conclusions. He strikes down two congressional districts Districts 5 & 10 as violations of the state constitution. He also holds that f one or more districts do not meet constitutional muster, then the entire [redistricting] act is unconstitutional. Thus, if his decision is ultimately upheld, the legislature will need to consider an entirely new map although Judge Lewis adds that this holding does not mean that portions of the map not affected by those individual districts found to be improperly drawn would need to be changed in a redrawn map. He also relies upon a prior Florida Supreme Court decision holding that districts typically should not have an unusual shape, a bizarre design, or an unnecessary appendage and that districts containing finger-like extensions, narrow and bizarrely shaped tentacles, and hook like shapes . . . are constitutionally suspect and often indicative of racial and partisan gerrymandering.