The Florida Supreme Court should order a third draft of the state’s congressional districts to fully eliminate illegal gerrymandering, attorneys for groups that have challenged the map argued Wednesday. But lawyers for the Legislature said Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis acted appropriately last year when he upheld lawmakers’ second version of the map, drawn after Lewis found that political consultants managed to “taint the redistricting process and the resulting map with improper partisan intent” the first time around. The arguments Wednesday were the latest chapter of a long-running battle between voting-rights organizations like the League of Women Voters and lawmakers about whether congressional and state Senate maps violate the anti-gerrymandering Fair Districts amendments, approved by voters in 2010.
The hearing dealt only with the new congressional map. A related case concerning a challenge to a Senate map — drawn in 2012 after the Supreme Court struck down the first draft of that plan — is ongoing.
Plaintiffs, who had initially hailed Lewis’ decision to strike down the first draft of the congressional map based on two districts he thought were problematic, later appealed when the judge accepted a redrawn plan that made only as many changes as necessary to correct those districts.
“The entire map should be declared unlawful because the entire process was unlawful,” attorney John Devaney told the court Wednesday.