The Orlando Sentinel is reporting Florida's re-drawn congressional map intentionally favors Republicans in violation of the anti-gerrymandering standards voters approved in 2010 and will have to be re-drawn, according to a ruling late Thursday from a Tallahassee judge. Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis, who found particular problems in two central Florida seats, went to the root of the problem in his decision, quoting President George Washington's farewell address warning of associations of "cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men" who could subvert the will of voters. Lewis went on to write the case "goes to the very foundation of our representative democracy."
With gerrymandering becoming a nationwide problem in the wake of the 2010 Republican wave, Florida voters in 2010 passed two constitutional amendments known as the Fair Districts amendments which required lawmakers to draw legislative and congressional seats more compactly, within existing geographic and local government boundaries and without intentional favoritism toward political parties or incumbents. Shortly after the passage of the amendments, Republicans drafted their gerrymandered districts and the Florida Legislature passed its first attempt at maps. The Florida Supreme Court in 2012 ruled the state Senate seats violated the mandate and ordered them redrawn, after the League of Women Voters of Florida and other groups filed suit in state court, alleging Republican lawmakers violated the Fair Districts standards.
In his ruling, Lewis found fault with Central Florida districts, in particular, District 5 held by Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, which Lewis wrote was unnecessarily drawn to protect Brown, and District 10 held by Daniel Webster, R-Winter Garden, which "was drawn to benefit the Republican Party and the incumbent."
Lewis determined GOP lawmakers, staffers and consultants worked together behind the scenes to draw Republican-friendly seats, writing there was "too much circumstantial evidence of it, too many coincidences" to uphold the maps.
Lewis found Republicans had "made a mockery of the Legislature's proclaimed open and transparent process" by working to draw partisan maps "in the shadow of that process."
Read more on the case and Lewis’ decision here.