Last month, you may recall, a Florida judge declared unconstitutional the comically gerrymandered congressional districts created by Republicans in the Legislature, ruling that they blatantly violated an amendment the state's voters had overwhelmingly approved in 2010.
In a scathing opinion, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry P. Lewis ruled in Tallahassee that the Legislature's Republican political consultants had "made a mockery" of the redistricting process, tainting it with "partisan intent."
Lewis said that the districts, drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature after the 2010 census, flouted voter-passed constitutional amendments intended to eliminate gerrymandering — that is, often-bizarre and irregular lines that make a district safe for one party or the other.
Gerrymandering "has been criticized as allowing, in effect, the representatives to choose their voters instead of vice versa," he wrote.
Specifically, Lewis found that congressional districts 5 and 10 had been drawn to favor the GOP, and that neighboring districts had been affected as well. Those two districts, and any others affected, will need to be redrawn, he said.
District 5, of course, is the sprawling slice of weirdness that stretches from Jacksonville all the way down to Orlando, snagging black communities along the way (and thus making the adjoining Republican districts safer, which is the whole point). It belongs to Corrine Brown, GOP foot soldier. And she was none too thrilled about Lewis’ ruling: "Minority communities do not live in compact, cookie-cutter-like neighborhoods, and excessive adherence to district ‘compactness,' while ignoring the maintenance of minority access districts, fragments minority communities across the state," she raged.
The Legislature decided not to appeal, for that would only be more embarrasing. Instead it asked Lewis to let the districts stand until after the November election.
Today, he said … More