Legislature and challengers blame each other for redistricting 'manipulation'
The finger-pointing began quickly last week as Florida lawmakers adjourned their second special session on redistricting and faced the prospect of another court-ordered map.
Lawmakers blamed the Fair Districts amendments to the state constitution as impossible to follow, and House and Senate leaders lashed out at the challengers — a coalition of Democrat-leaning individuals and voter groups led by the League of Women Voters and Common Cause of Florida — for manipulating the process. This week, the challengers lashed back.
“I don’t believe the plaintiffs want to see a legislatively approved map,” said Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, chairman of the House Select Committee on Redistricting after the House passed its proposed map. “They’re not an honest player in this process.”
Florida lawmakers called the self-imposed special session after ending the lawsuit by the challengers and admitting that the 2012 Senate redistricting maps violated the anti-gerrymandering provisions of the state constitution because they were drawn with partisan political intent.
But when the challengers submitted maps the evening before a vote in the full House or Senate, lawmakers could not consider them, Oliva said. He called it “gamesmanship” that used “the legislative process of the people to manipulate the judicial process of the people.”
David King, the lead lawyer for the coalition, said Monday that it was the Legislature that was manipulating the process.
“The coalition does not consider redistricting a game,” he said in a statement. “It is a very serious effort to ensure that voters can fairly choose their representatives and to stop legislators from rigging districts to favor themselves and their political parties.” Story here.