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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

NAACP et al sue to block Legislature's "sham" redistricting amendment

A coalition of liberal-leaning groups announced they have filed a lawsuit to block the Legislature's redistricting proposed constitutional amendment, which was passed in response to the two proposed by a group called Fair Districts Florida. The basic complaint: The Legislature's amendment masquerades as something that will help voters, but really helps the party in power, that is it "flies under false colors" and "hides the ball" from voters. Here's the lawsuit: Download RedistrictingSuit. More here on some of the background. Here's the press release:

Today, the Florida NAACP, Florida League of Women Voters, and Democracia Ahora filed suit in Tallahassee, seeking the removal of a misleading ballot amendment, Amendment 7 from the November ballot. This “poison pill” amendment, placed on the ballot by Tallahassee politicians, is a brazen attempt by those in power to continue their absolute control of the redistricting process. Amendment 7 parades as an amendment measure to create “standards” for the legislature to follow when they draw their own district lines and those of congressional districts. But in reality the legislature’s amendment is an attempt to eliminate all rules and give the politicians free reign to draw districts that only serve to protect their own political futures. It is intentionally written to fool voters about its chief purpose and true effect.

Amendment 7 was passed in direct response to the placement of two citizen-initiated amendments on the ballot, FairDistricts Amendments 5 and 6. These two amendments will create real mandatory and enforceable standards for redistricting at the legislative and congressional level. Amendments 5 and 6 will prohibit the current practice of drawing districts to favor an incumbent or political party. By placing Amendment 7 on the ballot, a majority of the legislators proved beyond a reasonable doubt that they want to continue to use redistricting as their own personal political, incumbent protection plan.

“Amendment 7 is a sham. In placing it on the ballot, the Legislature wants the people to think it does one thing when it clearly does another. While FairDistricts Amendments 5 and 6 contain mandatory and enhanced protections for minority voters, Amendment 7 makes those protections optional. The potential impact of Amendment 7 on minority voters in the state of Florida is deeply troubling,” says Adora Obi Nweze, President of the Florida NAACP and plaintiff in the case. 2

Deirdre Macnab, State President of the Florida League of Women Voters and a fellow plaintiff says, “These legislators claim that Amendment 7 is needed to ‘clarify’ provisions of the FairDistricts Amendments 5 and 6. But that claim is deceptive and false. They are just trying to hold on to their power. ”

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:38am]

    

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