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Re-redistricted maps are a product of Democratic meddling, Legislature tells court

Attorneys for the Florida Legislature are calling on the Florida Supreme Court to reject proposed redistricting maps submitted by voting-rights groups.

Their argument: the maps are a product of influence by Democratic “partisan operatives and political consultants.”

In a court filing on Monday, lawyers representing the House and Senate are asking to discard the maps weeks before the court hears arguments on the constitutionality of redistricting approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The Florida League of Women Voters is among the groups that brought suit, saying the districts violate Florida’s Fair District anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendment voters put in place in 2010. They claim Republican consultants illegally influenced lawmakers while redrawing the state’s political maps, while submitting alternate maps of their own.

Lawyers for the Legislature countered that argument on Monday, saying it was now Democratic operatives who had meddled in the latest revisions.

It is an argument that mirrors the original contention that Republican consultants Pat Bainter and Frank Terraferma had too much influence over the disputed redistricting.

Monday’s filing says:

“According to Appellants (the groups), it is fine and appropriate to submit to the judiciary maps drawn by Democratic partisan operatives and political consultants — the ‘Bainters’ and ‘Terrafermas’ of the Democratic world — and hide the truth from the court … This proposition must be rejected.

“The idea that parties may submit maps drawn by partisans, invite courts to rely on them and impose them and avoid all scrutiny and disclosure — misleading judges and undermining the Constitution — and that the whole caper is irrelevant and no business of the court, is flat wrong.”

However, an earlier filing on behalf of the voting-rights groups told the court there was no basis to exclude the proposed maps.

“All of Florida’s voters, be they Democrats, Republicans, or members of other political parties, are entitled to a redistricting process untainted by partisan gerrymandering.

“In the redistricting process, the Legislature did not simply rely on otherwise constitutional maps that happened to have been submitted by persons with partisan motives,” the groups said in the earlier filing.

“Instead, the Legislature repeatedly communicated with Republican operatives, received advice from at least one of them, disproportionately relied on maps secretly drawn by the same operatives to whom it provided special access, and destroyed any evidence revealing what it had done.

“That collaboration with operatives, together with other circumstantial evidence, constitutes unconstitutional intent.”

The Supreme Court will hear arguments March 4.

Written By

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist, editor and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing, reporting and management experience, Phil produced content for both print and online, in addition to founding several specialty websites, including HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range included covering news, local government and entertainment reviews for Patch.com, technical articles, and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine as well as advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as editor and production manager for Extensive Enterprises Media since 2013 and lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul. He can be reached at phil.ammann@gmail.com.

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