Mostly Cloudy86° WeatherMostly Cloudy86° Weather

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pariente suggests redistricting process remains flawed

27

April

In a 17-page concurring opinion to the court decision to validate the Senate map, Justice Barbara Pariente concludes that Florida’s redistricting process, while improved because of the new Fair District amendments, still contain flaws that could result in the will of voters not being served.
“The bottom line is that while the goal of the new amendment is laudatory, it is imperative that there be further exploration of the limitations of time, process, and the language of the ―intent standard,’’ Pariente wrote.

Pariente explored that time constraints imposed by existing Constitutional provisions and concluded they are unrealistic. She said the process by which legislators draw maps with an "intent" not to favor or incumbents or political parties is inherently conflicted and the will of the voters might better be served to require that districts be “competitive” rather than to suggest that political intent be barred.

Pariente showed us again how she has become the court’s most vocal redistricting critic with her treatise on the requirement in the Fair District amendments requirement that the maps be draw with no intent to protect incumbents or political parties.

She then included this list of comparisons – between the invalidated Senate plan, the redrawn Senate plan, the coalition‘s alternative plan, and the Democratic Party’s alternative plan which show that despite Democratic voter performance and registration numbers, Republicans were given the numerical advantage in the maps. “This partisan imbalance naturally raises questions,” she wrote.

Pariente added that while she agreed with the court that the opponents to the redrawn Senate map did not prove that the Legislature violated the requirement that the maps were drawn to benefit a political party: “This does not mean that challenges on the basis of partisan imbalance should always be rejected in the future…In my view, there is certainly a point at which severe partisan imbalance will reflect impermissible intent.”
 But, Pariente emphasized, “defining that threshold for future cases, however, is a difficult undertaking,’’ especially given the time constraints and the limits on the court’s review.
 “The bottom line is that while the goal of the new amendment is laudatory, it is imperative that there be further exploration of the limitations of time, process, and the language of the ―intent standard,’’ Pariente wrote.
 “These issues are deserving of a closer look, with an eye toward assuring that the will of the voters can be fully realized. I urge the Legislature in the next session and the Constitutional Revision Commission when it meets in 2018 to study the process with particular attention to these concerns.
 “Alternatively, the citizen initiative process could be employed once again to propose additional changes that would more completely effectuate the intent of the voters in passing the Fair Districts Amendment.”
Here are the numbers Pariente cites:
 Registered Voters:
Statewide: 53% Democrat 47% Republican
Invalidated Senate: 18 Democrat (45%) 22 Republican (55%)
Redrawn Senate: 19 Democrat (47.5%) 21 Republican (52.5%)
Coalition: 20 Democrat (50%) 20 Republican (50%)
FDP: 21 Democrat (52.5%) 19 Republican (47.5%)
2010 Gubernatorial Election:
Statewide:19 48% Sink (D) 49% Scott (R)
Invalidated Senate: 14 Sink (35%) 26 Scott (65%)
Redrawn Senate: 15 Sink (37.5%) 25 Scott (62.5%)
Coalition: 18 Sink (45%) 22 Scott (55%)
FDP: 17 Sink (42.5%) 23 Scott (57.5%)
2008 Presidential Election:
Statewide: 51% Obama (D) 48% McCain (R)
Invalidated Senate: 16 Obama (40%) 24 McCain (60%)
Redrawn Senate: 17 Obama (42.5%) 23 McCain (57.5%)
Coalition: 23 Obama (57.5%) 17 McCain (42.5%)
FDP: 21 Obama (52.5%) 19 McCain (47.5%)
 2006 Gubernatorial Election:
Statewide: 45% Davis (D) 52% Crist (R)
Invalidated Senate: 13 Davis (32.5%) 27 Crist (67.5%)
Redrawn Senate: 12 Davis (30%) 28 Crist (70%)
Coalition: 13 Davis (32.5%) 27 Crist (67.5%)
FDP: 13 Davis (32.5%) 27 Crist (67.5%)

[Last modified: Friday, April 27, 2012 2:10pm]

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...