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Plaintiffs in congressional map lawsuit seek judge's recusal

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Voting rights groups are asking a U.S. District Court to decide how Florida’s new congressional map is drawn — but they want one of the three judges assigned to the case to recuse himself.

Judge Allen Winsor’s former law firm worked to oppose efforts to pass the state’s Fair Districts Amendments and , which ban intentional partisan gerrymandering and the diminishment of minority voting power.

Kathay Feng is with Common Cause, one of the groups seeking his recusal.

“His image is so closely aligned with the people who sought to tear down these Fair Districts Amendments, that it would be hard for a person who had no particular bias at all to look at this and say ‘I believe that Judge Winsor could be impartial.’”

Winsor also represented the state House of Representatives in legal challenges to the 2012 electoral maps.

Feng says the legal standard for federal judges is that they should avoid the appearance of bias, even if they’re able to issue a fair ruling.

Winsor was randomly assigned to the case and could decide not to recuse himself.

Plaintiffs are hoping the case moves forward even as lawmakers return to the Capitol next month to draw new maps in a special legislative session.

Valerie Crowder hosts and produces state and local newscasts during All Things Considered. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.