Florida’s congressional redistricting maps should be rejected because they are the product of a shadowy process infiltrated by Republican political operatives in violation of the law against partisan gerrymandering, lawyers argued before the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday. The plaintiffs in the case, a coalition of voters and the League of Women Voters, want the court to adopt an alternative map because, they said, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis erred when he ruled that the entire map had been infiltrated by operatives but then asked lawmaker to redraw only two of the districts. The court concluded that the political operatives “tainted the map with improper partisan intent,” said David King, lawyer for the League of Women Voters, who initially commended Lewis for his ruling. King said that constituted an “intentional violation by the Legislature” and invalidated the map.
But lawyers for the Legislature, which was ordered by a circuit court to redraw two of the 27 congressional districts in August, said Lewis concluded that the legislature’s professional staff — John Guthrie, Alex Kelly and Jason Poreda — drew the maps and “were not part of the conspiracy” conducted by the political operatives.
Lewis acted properly when he upheld the final re-do of the redistricting map by the GOP-controlled Legislature, argued Raoul Cantero, lawyer for the Legislature and a former Florida Supreme Court justice. Lawmakers redrew District 5, a snake-shaped district that stretches from Orlando to Jacksonvile and is held by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, a Democrat, and District 10, an Orlando-based district held by U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, a Republican.