Florida Democratic Party chair suggests redistricting plan for Congressional seats also in jeopardy

03/13/12 wire services including AP
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The Florida Supreme Court has given the Republican-controlled Legislature some very specific guidelines for redrawing state Senate districts when the lawmakers try again.

The Legislature convenes a 15-day special session tomorrow.

The 5-2 ruling upheld the entire 120 district House map but invalidated the Senate's map.

It also struck down the Senate's district renumbering scheme that would have let more incumbents serve 10 years instead of just eight before being term-limited out of office.

The justices cited various violations of the new Fair Districts amendment on legislative redistricting. That includes intentionally favoring or disfavoring incumbents or political parties and failing to follow political and geographic boundaries whenever feasible.

The ruling also faulted the Senate's methodology for attempting to protect minority voting rights.

In a conference call with reporters today, Florida Democratic Party Chair Rod Smith said the court found fault with the entire Senate map, not with just a few districts as some Republicans have claimed.

Meanwhile the Florida Legislature has filed a federal lawsuit in Washington, D.C., just in case the Justice Department rejects its Congressional redistricting plans.

A House spokesperson said the case was filed yesterday to reserve a place on the court calendar if needed.

She said that's to make sure it can be resolved before the June 8 candidate filing deadline for this year's elections.

Florida Democratic Party Chair Rod Smith thinks that map could be in trouble as well.

The Justice Department first must review the legislative and congressional maps for compliance with the Voting Rights Act.

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