The Florida Supreme Court ordered lawmakers to redraw the state’s congressional districts. They didn’t do it. Now, the state’s highest court will decide whether to give them more time or to let the courts draw the districts themselves. With the Republican-led House and Senate at odds over redistricting, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis decided Tuesday to forward the unprecedented disagreement to the Florida Supreme Court. “I’m just going to ask them what they want me to do,” Lewis said. “I just don’t feel that I have any authority to do anything other than to report the situation.” In a two-week special session that ended Friday, the House and Senate couldn’t agree to new congressional districts after the court ruled in July that GOP operatives had stealthily submitted maps through proxies favoring the Republican Party, in violation of a constitutional prohibition against drawing new districts favoring political parties.
Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, leader of Senate redistricting efforts, called the ruling, which withheld jurisdiction to the courts, and the grey legal area currently occupied by the case, “the most unique circumstances I’ve ever encountered.”
The dispute between the chambers trickled down to the lawyers from the House and Senate at the hearing Tuesday. Normally the GOP-controlled chambers will work in tandem on legal matters, but the House filed a motion to have the courts take two months to review the districts it prefers, while the Senate pushed the courts for more time to come to an agreement with the House.
But that would mean another special session and more costs to taxpayers with little hope of reaching an agreement between the chambers.