Judge throws out anti-Fair Districts lawsuit (Updated)
U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro this morning rejected the lawsuit challenging one of Florida’s “Fair Districts” amendments.
The lawsuit was brought by Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, the day after 63 percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 6 at the ballot box last fall. The lawsuit hinged on whether the U.S. Constitution bars Florida voters from restricting how the state Legislature chooses to redraw congressional district lines.
Supporters of Amendment 6 say the measure will prevent lawmakers from drawing congressional districts that protect incumbents and ensure one-party control. Stephen Cody, the attorney representing Brown and Diaz-Balart, told The Florida Independent that the U.S. Constitution grants “complete discretion” to the state Legislature when it comes to redistricting, and that Amendment 6 tampered with that authority.
But “Amendment VI does not supplant the Florida legislature,” Ungaro argues in her ruling, which you can read in full below. “Rather, it attaches a series of conditions, adopted in accordance with the state constitution, to eventual legislative action on redistricting.”
“Once the people of Florida act to limit the legislature’s options through a constitutional amendment, the new constitutional provision binds the legislature,” she writes.
“Supreme Court case law, consistent with the original debate over the Elections Clause, contradicts plaintiffs’ and plaintiff-intervenor’s various arguments that amendment VI is unconstitutional, and supports the defendant’s and defendant intervenors’ claim that Amendment VI is a valid regulation of the legislative process,” Ungaro concludes.
That doesn’t mean, however, that this case is over. Before today’s hearing, Cody told the Independent that however the judge rules, “someone will appeal.”
Brown and Diaz-Balart will indeed appeal Ungaro’s decision. ”I am disappointed,” Brown told the Associated Press. “When you are disappointed, what do you do? You go on to take the next step, and that’s what we’re going to do.”