Twice, Florida courts have rejected the Legislature’s attempts to redraw the map for congressional districts, saying that Republicans in power rigged the results to their advantage. This, after Florida voters overwhelmingly passed two amendments in 2010 aimed at keeping politics out of the process. Now, finally, can we get a nonpartisan independent commission to do what the politicians obviously can’t? On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court upheld a circuit court’s finding that political operatives had worked behind the scenes to “taint” the state’s redistricting process with “improper partisan intent.” But the high court said Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis didn’t go far enough last summer when he ordered that two congressional districts be redrawn. Instead, the Supreme Court threw out eight districts that the Legislature drew up in 2012 — and gave the lawmakers just 100 days to create a new map of congressional districts, one that makes a decisive break with the state’s long history of partisan political gerrymandering.
… Floridians emphatically said they wanted to end this farce when 63 percent of voters approved the 2010 Fair District amendments to the state constitution (one for congressional races, one for the state legislature) to bar the Legislature from drawing districts with the “intent to favor or disfavor a political party or incumbent.”
It’s clear now that the amendment didn’t go far enough. Favoring or disfavoring a political party or incumbent — well, that’s part of any good politician’s DNA. Asking pols to devise a congressional map that may hurt their party’s interests is to go against nature.
The Florida Supreme Court has left no doubt that our process drips with unconstitutional politicization. The U.S. Supreme Court, affirming the Arizona commission, has given us a clear signal what to do: Let’s hand this job over to a neutral panel.