TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the state’s congressional maps don’t meet the requirements of a voter-approved constitutional amendment that prohibits political lines from being drawn to favor incumbents or a political party.
The court ordered the Legislature to try drawing the maps again.
The ruling means there could be an upheaval as incumbents seek re-election and candidates from both parties seek to fill open seats. Florida has 27 congressional districts and the court ordered eight be redrawn, along with any districts they border.
The court chastised the Republican-led Legislature for working behind the scenes to draw the maps.
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“The Legislature itself proclaimed that it would conduct the most open and transparent redistricting process in the history of the state, and then made important decisions, affecting numerous districts in the enacted map, outside the purview of public scrutiny,” the ruling said.
A coalition that included the League of Women Voters challenged the lines, saying Republicans who drew them up ignored the new constitutional requirements approved by voters in 2010. A lower court agreed that GOP leaders and operatives made a mockery of the amendment, but only ordered two central Florida districts be redrawn.
The Supreme Court said that wasn’t good enough.
Republicans have maintained that the maps adhere to constitutional requirements despite evidence that political operatives helped draw them.
It’s yet to be seen how the ruling will affect the majority of Florida’s members of Congress who are seeking re-election, as well as their challengers.