The Reapportionment Game
OF "BIZARRE AND UNUSUAL SHAPES": VERSION 1
If the Senate still can’t read the constitution, the Court surely will.
Written by Duane Bradford. Last updated Friday March 16th, 2012
By DUANE BRADFORD
To the 63 percent of Florida voters who muscled the "Fair Districts" amendments into Florida’s constitution, your persistence is finally paying off.
Praise be for the Florida Supreme Court.
What A Tangled Web They Wove
The Court, reviewing the redistricting plan as required by the new amendments, tossed out eight district boundary voting designs created by the senate, causing the entire Florida Legislature to reconvene to vote on a new version. Sometimes images speak profoundly louder than words. So here’s a look at two of the districts -- 10 and 12 -- that the Court termed among "bizarre and unusual shapes" designed to help let incumbents keep their seats.
In its 254-page opinion tossing out the senate plan, the court showed some street smarts in trying to sort out the motivations of senators in approving such unusual district shapes that run counter to the definition of the word "compact" that is used in defining a district shape. The Court, doubtless suspecting that the shape might have something to do with helping re-elect an incumbent, wrote in a footnote:
"When a senator asked during the January 17, 2012, floor debate if any incumbent lived in the appendage of newly numbered Senate District 10, the response given was that if an incumbent lived there it was ―news to me, even though the incumbent who lived there was present during the debate. The incumbent addresses provided to the Court verify that an incumbent does in fact live in the part of District 10 that we refer to as the appendage."
The senate has two weeks to draw a map that meets constitutional muster. If it fails, the constitution requires the Court to do it. Having listened to the senate committee and floor debates about this year’s redistricting plan, I’d go with the Court’s judgment.