In Florida, Judge James Shelfer removed redistricting-related Amendment 7 from the November ballot. Judge Shelfer ruled that the Republican-controlled state legislature’s proposed Amendment 7â€™s â€œfailure to inform the public [was] clearly and convincingly an attempt to hide the ballâ€ about the measureâ€™s true aims. The legislature put Amendment 7 on the ballot in response to redistricting reform measures from FairDistricts Florida. The Rose Institute discussed the competing proposals in earlier posts here and here.
The suit against Amendment 7 focused on the amendmentâ€™s clarity. The attorney representing the Florida House of Representatives argued that Amendment 7 merely created â€œadditional standards that [went] with the standards that presently exist.â€ Opponents of Amendment 7 believe the amendment would allow the state legislature to bypass the provisions of FairDistricts’s proposed Amendment 5 and Amendment 6. Ron Meyer, the attorney for the Florida state NAACP, argued that the â€œamendment is nothing if not deceptive, if not unintelligibleâ€¦[the state legislature] could haveâ€¦made [it] a very simple, straightforward amendmentâ€¦.and they chose not to do that for the very purpose of being able to hide the impacts.â€
In his ruling, Judge Shelfer cited his own inability to comprehend the language of Amendment 7. Said Shelfer, â€œIâ€™m not the brightest light on the Christmas tree, but it took me three daysâ€¦to get a handle on what this amendment does.â€
An appeal of Judge Shelferâ€™s verdict is set to go before the Florida Supreme Court. Meanwhile, separate law suits against FairDistricts Florida will have court hearings this week in Tallahassee.