In a big win for the League of Women Voters, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis recommended their version of the state’s congressional borders to the Florida Supreme Court. The Justices asked him to review a number of different proposals and send them the most constitutional draft.
Despite arguments in court about the presence or lack of partisan intent, Judge Lewis confined his ruling to the issue of tier-two compliance. That is, he focused his analysis on the compactness measurements of the different proposals. Under Florida’s anti-gerrymandering laws, drafting lines with the intent of favoring a party or incumbent is a tier one violation.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Judge Lewis preferred the Florida House’s proposal to either of the drafts presented by the Senate. He says the Senate didn’t succeed in justifying its changes.
- Lewis also noted maps from the plaintiffs aligned more closely with the House proposal, giving it more weight.
- That said, again turning to tier-two metrics, Lewis says the first of the League’s proposals—known as CP-1—is the most compact for Districts 20-27. He recommends the Supreme Court follow their draft.
- Lewis rejects the allegation of partisan intent behind the Legislature’s original drafts, but he notes staff mapmakers didn’t do enough to meet Supreme Court demands with regard to Districts 26 and 27
- Lewis says expert testimony about Hispanic voters losing the ability to elect a candidate of choice in District 26 was a “cogent, logical argument” but it didn’t appear to be supported by the facts.
The Supreme Court is now asking the parties to draft briefs on Judge Lewis’ decision before the end of October.