The Supreme Court may have knocked out the best-known challenge to existing congressional districts in a number of states on Monday, but maps still remain in flux for 2016 in three important, large battleground states: Florida, North Carolina and Virginia. Continued redistricting litigation — spearheaded mostly by Democrats, who were in the legislative minority in the three states after the 2010 Census, and their allies — involves 51 of the nation’s 435 congressional districts and could allow Democrats to make a dent in the GOP’s near-historic House majority in next year’s elections.
The high court’s decision on Monday — that an independent redistricting commission set up in Arizona by ballot initiative is constitutionally permitted to redraw the state’s congressional map every 10 years — actually bolsters Democrats’ case in Florida, where voters in 2010 approved amendments to the state constitution that prohibit legislators from considering partisan composition and incumbent protection when drawing new districts. Had the Arizona Legislature succeeded in convincing the court that cutting the Legislature out of the redistricting process was unconstitutional, opponents of the Florida Fair Districts amendments could have sued to have the restrictions on the Legislature there regarding congressional districts struck down as well.
Florida’s GOP-controlled Legislature was already forced to redraw the map last summer, after groups linked to Democrats sued under the Fair Districts amendments. The new map, which made slight tweaks to the districts represented by Democrat Corrine Brown and Republican Daniel Webster, was passed last August — too late for the 2014 elections — and is scheduled to take effect next year.