Two views on judge’s ruling

Don Gaetz and League of Women Voters see differently yesterday’s ruling regarding the legislative and Congressional districts:

To: Members of the Florida Senate
From: Don Gaetz, Chair, Reapportionment Committee
RE: Final Approval of Legislative and Congressional Districts

This afternoon, the United States Department of Justice pre-cleared the Florida Legislature’s redistricting plans for congressional, state senate, and state house districts. A copy of the preclearance letter is provided by clicking on this link here. Also this afternoon, Leon Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis issued the opinion, linked here, denying plaintiffs’ motions for summary judgment challenge to congressional districts.

These affirmations, together with the Florida Supreme Court’s Friday opinion validating state senate districts, clear the path for elections this year using the new districts adopted on the floors of the Senate and House of Representatives.

Credit for achieving this milestone goes to our presiding officers, President Haridopolos and Speaker Cannon, for insisting on an open, inclusive process that reached out to involve thousands of Floridians, their concerns, suggestions and proposals.

Speaker-designate Weatherford has been a true partner, as has the House Redistricting Committee. Our own Senate Reapportionment Committee, Democrats and Republicans, worked cooperatively and with profound respect for federal and state law and for the input of our fellow citizens.

While there will always be those whose political intentions were frustrated by the bi-cameral, bi-partisan, bi-racial coalition plan adopted by the Legislature and the affirmations now made by the Supreme Court, the Justice Department, and the Leon Circuit Court, I believe we can take pride in the outcomes achieved and the way we achieved them.

League of Women Voters

Tallahassee, FL — In response to today’s ruling by Tallahassee Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis, League of Women Voters of Florida First Vice-President Pamela Goodman issued the following statement:

“Today, Judge Lewis ruled that he cannot assess the Legislature’s congressional reapportionment plan without a full trial. This simply delays the determination that the congressional districts do not comply with the FairDistricts provisions of the Florida Constitution.

This is exactly the scenario that the League of Women Voters of Florida and other organizations and individuals warned against last summer when scores of citizens urged the Legislature to accelerate the map drawing process. There was no legal restraint that would have prohibited the Legislature from drawing the congressional map last summer or fall, allowing time for a full judicial review. As the League said all along, delaying congressional redistricting represented an intentional ploy by the Legislature to buy two more years under unfairly gerrymandered maps.

The League of Women Voters of Florida has been fighting for fair redistricting standards for over 70 years. We do not intend to stop now. This decision is only justice delayed, not justice denied. We will continue to fight for districts that are drawn fairly and without partisan or incumbency favoritism until the battle is won.”