Florida House joins challenge to strike congressional redistricting amendment
TALLAHASSEE, Florida: Challenges against voter-approved Amendment 6 continue to develop. On Monday, January 24, 2011, the Florida House of Representatives formally filed to join the challenge against the redistricting measure.
Approved by 63% of voters on November 2, 2010, the measure called for amending the practice of drawing congressional district boundaries in such ways that they establish "fairness," are "as equal in population as feasible" and use "city, county and geographical boundaries." A day following the general election, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Rep. Corrine Brown filed Brown v State of Florida. The lawmakers argue that the measure is unconstitutional.
According to House spokesperson Katie Betta, "The U.S. Constitution delegates authority to the state legislatures to draw congressional districts. The House believes its constitutional authority has been impeded by Amendment 6." According to reports, the Senate has not made efforts to join the suit.
Prior to the 2010 elections, the legislature approved an additional redistricting measure but it was removed from the ballot prior to the 2010 elections by court order. The state's high court ruled in late August that the measure was isleading because it did not highlight to voters the effect on the state's district requirements and because it would undermine the state's current requirement that districts be "contiguous."
In response to the January 24 developments, Rep. Perry Thurston called the House's actions a waste of taxpayers' money to try to "thwart the will of the people." Others called the efforts, an attempt by Republicans to save their own jobs.
The state of Florida gained two seats from the reapportionment after the 2010 census. The state population increased by 2.8 million residents, or 17.6 percent. The state will now have 27 members in the U.S. House. The Florida State Legislature is responsible for drawing those districts' boundaries. However, House Speaker Dean Cannon announced in December 2010 that committee appointments to the redistricting commission would be delayed until 2011 while staff analyze the impact of Amendments 5 & 6.
- Associated Press, "Fla. House challenges redistricting amendment," January 25, 2011 (dead link)
- The Ledger, "Fla. House Joins Lawsuit to Strike Down Redistricting Amendment 6," January 24, 2011
- The Herald Tribune, "House asking to join lawsuit over redistricting," January 25, 2011
- Naples News, "Florida picks up 2 congressional seats, 2010 Census shows," December 21, 2010
- Orlando Sentinel, "Cannon taps committee chairs, delays redistricting appointments," December 7, 2010