One of the many acts in the ongoing Florida congressional maps drama came to a close recently. The Florida Supreme Court approved a congressional map that was submitted by a group of people who challenged the legislature's proposed plan. The approval came in spite of the fact the legislature argued against the proposed plan.
The Supreme Court hurried to get the map approved by the upcoming 2016 election. The approval was a vindication for the groups arguing that the legislature had crafted a one-sided congressional map to put and keep their majority party in power. The legal challenges and troubles with this most recent map are not over.
History of Fight and Legal Basis
The fights over legislatively created congressional maps began when Floridians voted in the Fair Districts Amendment to the Florida Constitution several years ago. The fight over this amendment has produced no less than eight Florida Supreme Court opinions on the issue and incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of legal fees.
The Fair District Amendment was passed and implemented by Florida voters several years ago to act as a check against legislators from creating unfair congressional districts. Known as Gerrymandering, state legislatures have created congressional districts that favor the majority party since the beginning of our country. Drawing congressional districts in such a partisan manner nearly guarantees that the majority party of a state can control the number of congress people coming out of their state.
The Fair Districts Amendment sought to do away with partisan congressional map making through several initiatives. One problem still remained in that legislatures have the duty of creating these maps. Because of the amendment, no matter what maps were drawn by legislatures, some side would be unhappy with the result and take their complaint to the courts.
Future Challenge in Federal Court
As soon as the most recent map was approved by the Florida Supreme Court, at least two congress people from Florida announced they would challenge the ruling. According to those congress people, the new map disenfranchises voters in their districts from electing minorities. Historically, challenges of maps based on race have been decided by federal courts, and that is where these announced suits will be heard.
While there is a large number of federal cases and opinions dealing with congressional maps and constitutionality, it is a difficult task to have a federal court overturn an approved map. This challenge will be even more difficult because it has been approved by the highest court in Florida prior to being brought to federal court.
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