The Florida Senate passed redrawn congressional, state House and state Senate district maps Thursday. The congressional map will now head to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk, while the legislative maps will be reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court.
Before the Senate chambers were cleared, the Florida Democratic Party announced that it is suing to block the congressional maps, saying the plan violates the anti-gerrymandering Fair Districts amendments approved by Florida voters in 2010.
“Republicans have undertaken the sort of incumbent protection and partisan gerrymandering that 63-percent of Florida voters overwhelmingly demanded must stop,” Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith said in a press release. “Now the courts have to step in to implement the will of the people — a job the GOP in Tallahassee failed to accomplish.”
Groups that supported the Fair Districts measures also announced their intention to file a lawsuit against the congressional map, claiming it violates the amendments by favoring incumbents and suppressing minority votes.
The League of Women Voters, National Council of LaRaza and Common Cause are listed in the complaint (.pdf) as plaintiffs, along with four individuals. Secretary of State Kurt Browning, the Florida Senate, Senate President Mike Haridopolis, the Florida House and Speaker Dean Cannon are all listed as defendants.
The Fair Districts groups are described as “nonpartisan,” but Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, described them as “special interest groups” when discussing his lack of surprise at the news.
“My father used to say some people would complain if you hung them with a new rope,” said Gaetz.
Gaetz and Haridopolis said the lawsuits come at the expense of taxpayers, with $5 million set aside for legal fees. According to Gaetz, redistricting Staff Director John Guthrie said $10 million was prepared for legal fees during the last redistricting process in 2002.