FL Supreme Court sides with redistricting reform advocates

In a welcome bit of news for redistricting reform advocates in Florida, that state’s Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that the state legislature’s redistricting  measure will not appear on the November ballot. The court ruled that the title of Amendment 7, “Standards for Legislature to Follow in Legislative and Congressional Redistricting,” misled voters regarding the amendment’s true purpose. The decision, written by Justice Barbara Pariente, said “While purporting to create and impose standards upon the Legislature in redistricting, the amendment actually eliminates actual standards and replaces them with discretionary considerations.” The decision of the Supreme Court upheld the July 8th decision of Circuit Court Judge Jim Shelfer. Judge Shelfer said “I’m not the brightest light on the Christmas tree, but it took me three days…to get a handle on what this amendment does.”

The Supreme Court also put an end to lawsuits against redistricting reform Amendments 5 and 6. That ruling ensures that those measures, sponsored by FairDistricts Florida, will appear on the November ballot. Jorge Mursuli, President of Democracia (one of three groups to bring the suit against Amendment 7), said “now that the legal mumbo jumbo placed on the ballot as Amendment 7 has been stricken, we can put all of our energies into ensuring the passage of Amendments 5 and 6.” In a public statement, future State Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R) complained that “the elected representatives of the people of the state of Florida can’t get ballot measures approved by the court but special interest groups can.”

In addition to finding the amendment’s title misleading, the court believed the Amendment could be used to bypass current state redistricting requirement of district contiguity,which the Court ruled was not made clear to voters by the Amendment.

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