After a nearly three-year wait, the outline of a battle over Florida’s state Senate maps is taking shape. Subpoenas are being served and a bitter fight has resumed between consultants and the voting groups that accuse them of illegally influencing political maps. A coalition of plaintiffs, including the League of Women Voters of Florida, filed a legal challenge to the state Senate maps shortly after they were approved during the 2012 redistricting process. They argue the new lines were drawn for “incumbent and partisan favoritism.” That’s in violation of constitutional amendments passed by voters in 2010 that no longer allow redistricting to be used to favor political parties or protect incumbents. Plaintiffs take specific issue with 28 of the state’s 40 state Senate seats, while attorneys for the Legislature argue that political consultants from both parties tried to influence the process, but failed.
“Plaintiffs cannot show that the efforts of those individuals corrupted the intent of the Legislature as a whole,” wrote attorneys representing the Legislature, in a response filed with the court last week.
If the court tosses the state Senate lines, it would be seen a blow to the Republican-dominated Legislature. The new maps passed the Senate on a 31-6 vote and in the House on a 61-47 margin, with Democrats representing all the “no” votes in both chambers.
The legal challenge to the state Senate maps has sat largely dormant as a separate lawsuit challenging the congressional maps worked its way through the courts. Trial is set for September in Leon County Court, but it could be delayed as a number of issues remain unresolved.