Contact Us
  • Comment

Judge tells lawmakers to redraw Corrine Brown's congressional district, others

Long-time incumbent is unhappy with decision

Posted: August 1, 2014 - 7:09pm  |  Updated: August 1, 2014 - 7:18pm
Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., speaks at a House Judiciary Committee Democrats' briefing on racial profiling and hate crimes on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Tuesday, March 27, 2012.  AP
AP
Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., speaks at a House Judiciary Committee Democrats' briefing on racial profiling and hate crimes on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Tuesday, March 27, 2012.

TALLAHASSEE | A Leon County judge Friday ordered the legislature to redraw the state’s congressional districts over the next two weeks, likely requiring a special session and potentially throwing this month’s primary elections into chaos.

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis also ordered Secretary of State Ken Detzner and local elections supervisors to come up with a new voting schedule for any districts that lawmakers would have to redraw in the wake of his ruling last month that the current congressional map violates the Florida Constitution.

After Lewis struck down the districts, saying two of them didn’t follow anti-gerrymandering rules adopted by voters in 2010, the Legislature asked him to allow elections to go forward under those districts in 2014 because of the problems with holding a special election.

But a coalition of voting-rights organizations and voters called on Lewis to order the map to be redrawn, even if that meant delaying congressional elections.

“To develop a new map and hold a special election for some congressional representatives would cost more money, would place additional burdens on our election officials and might confuse some voters,” Lewis wrote in the order. “On the other hand, to do nothing, when you could, means that you lessen the ability of many citizens to fairly elect a representative of their choice — which is the effect of political gerrymandered districts.”

The decision almost ensures that lawmakers will have to come back to Tallahassee for a special session to redraw the map — unless they decide to try to appeal.

With some voters already returning absentee ballots for the Aug. 26 primaries and early voting set to begin in just 10 days in some counties, Lewis did not immediately rule on whether some elections need to be pushed back. He required a new map to be drawn by Aug. 15 and said he would hold oral arguments Aug. 20 if either side objects to the redrawn districts or to a possible special-election schedule.

“It is necessary to get a revised map in place and for me to consider additional evidence as to the legal and logistical obstacles to holding delayed elections for affected districts in 2014,” Lewis wrote. “Time is of the essence.”

The League of Women Voters of Florida, one of the organizations that filed the challenge to the map, praised Lewis’ ruling.

“This is a champagne moment for Florida voters, who have waited too long for fairly drawn congressional districts,” Deirdre Macnab, the group’s president, said in a statement issued after the ruling. “ ... We believe that the restoration of legitimate, representative democracy is well worth one extra trip to the polls.”

But Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown, whose district was one of two that Lewis ruled were unconstitutional, continued her criticism of Lewis’ decisions. Brown’s Congressional District 5 winds through eight counties from Duval to Orange, wrapping in enclaves of black voters to create a district likely to elect a candidate favored by African-Americans.

“If successful in the state of Florida, those behind this movement will continue to attack minority seats and minority voting rights in every state throughout the nation,” Brown said.

Brown said the ruling “is certainly not in the best interests of Florida voters,” and argued only the governor, not a judge, has authority to convene a special session.

In an emailed statement, Brown said the existing district lines “were already approved in a bipartisan fashion in the state legislature, and were only approved after numerous statewide hearings.”

She restated earlier arguments that the case Lewis ruled on was “part of a bigger movement” to curb minority represented congressional districts.

In his July decision, Lewis also ruled that an “appendage” of white voters added to Congressional District 10 was meant to help Republican Congressman Dan Webster and was unconstitutional. Lawmakers said the disputed area was added to Webster’s district as part of their efforts to create a neighboring Central Florida district where Hispanics could influence the outcome of elections.

Elections officials are worried that redrawing the map now and holding a special election could cause problems. Local elections supervisors and Detzner have already tried to convince Lewis that changing things at this point would lead to upheaval in the voting process.

And it might not be limited simply to the voters in the districts held by Brown and Webster. Because congressional districts need to have virtually the same population, any voter moved from one district to another has to be offset —- meaning changes to the seats Lewis struck down could ripple through the state.

“It would cause massive voter confusion, and that’s not fair to voters,” said Brian Corley, the supervisor of elections in Pasco County.

Republican legislative leaders did not publicly react to the order Friday.

A special session would put a crimp in lawmakers’ campaign plans; not only would they be confined to Tallahassee for as long as the meeting takes, but legislators are barred from raising money during a session.

 

Times-Union writer Steve Patterson contributed to this report.

Comments (11)

ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
PhDBlack
8551
Points
PhDBlack 08/04/14 - 10:40 am
0
0
Premium Member

Stop crying Corrine, right is

Stop crying Corrine, right is right.....I think that you are a great person....but on this issue you are wrong......if you are going to win you will win......let the voters vote......stop whinning........redraw the line......Corrine you should even help them....well on second thought not a good idea.......

Peace.....

IlikeJax
56
Points
IlikeJax 08/02/14 - 08:45 pm
0
0
Premium Member

Agreed. This is quid pro quo,

Agreed. This is quid pro quo, and laughable if it weren't tied directly to representation.

It is far past high-time to end the gerrymandering shenanigans and become a model for the rest of the country to emulate.

I hope this opportunity isn't squandered to do the right thing.

johnctaughtme
13367
Points
johnctaughtme 08/02/14 - 11:16 am
0
0
Premium Member

From the Daytona Beach

From the Daytona Beach News-Journal this morning; "Even measured against the grubby standard of business-as-usual, the 2012 redistricting process was a shabby, secretive mess." "...legislative leaders were looking to bend the rules and hide their tracks." "...lawmakers are still fighting to keep secret the process that produced those flawed districts..."

Corrine Brown aside, this is very likely a bi-partisan scandal at the party level of both political parties. It should be very vigorously investigated, and the First Amendment Foundation's efforts to unveil the secrecy should be followed and reported by the media.

Max mutt
9094
Points
Max mutt 08/02/14 - 11:10 am
0
0
Premium Member

The Barbarians Are At the

The Barbarians Are At the Gate, Corrine!
Time to get out the sandbags!

olgator
2335
Points
olgator 08/02/14 - 10:35 am
0
0
Premium Member

Why aren't weatherford and

Why aren't weatherford and Gaetz in Jail. They stole people's right to fair elections. They are probably going to try it again by submitting another bogus map. The only sanction is taxpayers pay more money. These guys will probably be rewarded with even better political jobs.

Back to Top

 
Sign up for Jacksonville.com's morning newsletter and get top stories each morning in your inbox.