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Florida redistricting amendment upheld in U.S. District Court

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September 12, 2011

By Bailey Ludlam

Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Florida: Florida's 2010 amendment regarding congressional redstricting has been cleared as constitutional, for now.

The measure also known as Amendment 6 has been tied up in legal challenges since voters approved it on November 3, 2010. But on September 9, 2011 U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro rejected the lawsuit. The Amendment established new guidelines for congressional redistricting in order to ensure fair districts that are "as equal in population as feasible" and use "city, county and geographical boundaries."

The voter-approved measure is challenged by U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Corrine Brown who argue that it would hinder the ability of minority voters to elect candidates of their choice. Essentially, the plaintiffs argued that the Amendment unconstitutionally curtails the Legislature's authority under the Elections Clause and attempts to dictate election outcomes. The Florida House joined the lawsuit efforts in January 2011. Reports indicate that the Florida House has spent an estimated $200,000 on legal fees challenging the law.[1]

In her 22-page opinion, Judge Ungaroo ultimately found that the amendment was a "valid regulation of the legislative process under the Elections Clause."[2]

In reaction to the decision, Brown announced that they plan to appeal the ruling to the United States Supreme Court, "I am disappointed in the judge’s ruling. But this is step one. We’re going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court."[3]

In August 2010, the state's high court dismissed challenges to both citizen proposed redistricting initiatives - Amendment 5 and Amendment 6. The case was known as Brown v State of Florida.

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