A judge threw out Florida’s congressional redistricting map Thursday, ruling that the Legislature allowed for a “secret, organized campaign” by partisan operatives to subvert the redistricting process in violation of the state Constitution. Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis ruled that two of the state’s 27 districts are invalid and must be redrawn, along with any other districts affected by them, to bring the map into compliance with the state’s new Fair District amendments. The 41-page ruling, issued late Thursday, invalidates the entire congressional map and raises questions now about whether the map will be redrawn before the November elections or revised later. The case, brought by a coalition led by the League of Women Voters, is expected to be appealed and ultimately decided by the Florida Supreme Court.
Any change in the political lines for Congress would have a ripple effect on other races, though not until the 2016 election cycle.
Lewis rejected challenges to districts in South Florida and Tampa Bay, but said that District 5, held by Democrat U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown of Jacksonville, and District 10, held by Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Webster of Winter Park “will need to be redrawn, as will any other districts affected thereby.”
The judge agreed with the coalition’s prime argument: that Republican legislators and staffers collaborated with political consultants to create “a shadow redistricting process” that protected incumbents and the GOP.