After eight rulings by the Florida Supreme Court and an admission of guilt by legislators, the Senate redistricting trial ended Thursday with a Tallahassee judge asking the parties to tell him their top choices for a new Senate map. Leon County Circuit Court Judge George Reynolds now must decide whether to accept one of four proposals offered by the challengers — a coalition of the League of Women Voters, Common Cause of Florida and a group of Democrat-leaning individuals — or a map drawn by Senate staff but never voted on by the Legislature. The challengers said Reynolds should pick one of two maps that create four Hispanic-majority districts in Miami-Dade County, boosting the number of Hispanic-dominated seats from three and opening the door to a Hispanic district dominated by Democrats.
The Senate’s lawyers, who operated solo during the four-day trial as the House sat on the sidelines, told the judge that if he rejects the Senate’s proposed map — the Senate’s first choice — they would like him to draw his own. The Senate offered up its map drawer to work with the plaintiffs’ map drawer to do the job.
“We believe that we arrived at a process that comes as close as you can come to ensuring that the map drawing process is not impacted by any improper intent or partisanship,” said Jason Zakia, lawyer for the Senate, noting that after violating the Constitution in 2012 the Senate attempted to keep politics from infiltrating the process.