A state judge has the power to decide that Florida’s congressional districts were illegally drawn to favor Republicans — and he should do just that, a coalition of voting-rights organizations argues in written closing arguments. In arguing that the districts violate a voter-approved Constitutional amendment specifically prohibiting such political favoritism, the plaintiffs fired a volley of salvos following 12 days of testimony in a landmark trial. “The 2012 congressional plan is exactly what one would expect from a legislature that fought the Fair Districts amendments at every hedgerow, involved partisan operatives in its decision-making, and made key decisions outside of the public eye,” the plaintiffs wrote to Circuit Judge Terry Lewis.
This is the first time a court has considered a challenge to the state’s congressional map under the anti-gerrymandering Fair Districts amendments, approved by the voters in 2010.
In their closing arguments filed late Friday, attorneys for the Legislature said the political consultants “sought out ways to appear relevant” even though they knew that lawmakers were not going to listen to them.
“But their efforts never merged with the map-drawing efforts of the Legislature, and the political consultants and the other members of the public, whatever their intent, never infected the sterile walls of the redistricting suites. … Those who drew the congressional plan, and those who voted to enact it, were driven by a strict desire to comply with the constitutional requirements and were never influenced by any partisan motivations of outside political consultants,” the brief states.