State House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park (Pic by Mark Foley)
State House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park (Pic by Mark Foley)

Florida House moves to join lawsuit challenging ‘Fair Districts’ amendment

By | 01.24.11 | 11:10 am

Citing its “considerable interest in establishing the unconstitutionality” of Amendment 6 — one of two so-called “Fair Districts” amendments that limit the state legislature’s ability to draw district lines to protect incumbents and ensure one-party control — the Florida House of Representatives has asked a court to allow it to intervene in a lawsuit seeking to have the amendment thrown out.

The lawsuit was filed by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, the day after Amendments 5 and 6 passed in a statewide vote with more than 60 percent support. According to documents filed by Brown and Diaz-Balart, they consider challenging the constitutionality of Amendment 6 one of their “official duties” in Congress.

Since that initial filing, the ACLU of Florida has moved to intervene in the case, hoping to help defend the amendment it says it was “intimately involved” in creating, and Attorney General Pam Bondi — who is tasked with defending the amendment after opposing it on the campaign trail — has asked the court to dismiss the case, citing a lack of jurisdiction.

In moving to join the suit to defeat Amendment 6, lawyers for the Florida House of Representatives write:

The House has a considerable interest in establishing the unconstitutionality of the Amendment. If this case proceeds without its involvement, that interest might be substantially impeded or impaired. The precedential effect of an adverse ruling could impair the House’s interests in future litigation, including litigation regarding the validity of any forthcoming redistricting plan. [Emphasis added.]

And:

Because the House’s and Plaintiffs’ interests may not be sufficiently aligned, Plaintiffs’ prosecution of this case may not adequately protect the Legislature. The House does not doubt Plaintiffs’ ability to faithfully and diligently pursue this action, but Plaintiffs’ interests are considerably narrower than the Legislature’s.

It’s no surprise that the state legislature, which is charged with drawing up new congressional district lines before next year’s elections, has an “interest” in the case. Two state senators have steered funds to Brown and Diaz-Balart’s legal expense funds, helping bankroll the challenge to Amendment 6.

The Florida House of Representatives’ motion:


Florida House of Representatives’ Unopposed Motion to Intervene as Plaintiff

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