On the last day of a once-a-decade redistricting legislative session, the Florida Supreme Court officially ordered overtime Friday by ruling that the re-drawn state Senate map failed to follow new anti-gerrymandering standards. The 5-2 ruling said that 8 of the Senate’s 40 re-drawn districts violated the new Fair Districts standards, a move that will force lawmakers to return to work — possibly within days — to take another crack at the maps. The court also gave unanimous approval to maps for 120 House districts. The defective Senate districts stretch from the Panhandle to Fort Myers, and Jacksonville to Orlando to Dania Beach — and failed to measure up in the high court’s review for different reasons, including being drawn to protect incumbents, and failing compactness or geographic standards.
The new standards, passed by 63 percent of voters in 2010, require lawmakers to draw congressional and legislative maps without intentionally helping or hurting incumbents or political parties, without damaging minority voting rights, and to the extent possible, without looking like modern art masterpieces.
“The new requirements dramatically alter the landscape with respect to redistricting by prohibiting practices that have been acceptable in the past, such as crafting a plan or district with the intent to favor a political party or an incumbent,” Justice Barbara Pariente wrote in a 191-page majority opinion.