Faced with writing a precedent-setting ruling that could shape the state’s political lines for decades, the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday aggressively grilled lawyers representing Democrats and Republicans, asking them how to interpret the state’s new redistricting rules.
“We need help,’’ said Justice Barbara Pariente, who dominated the questioning during the three-hour hearing into the Legislature’s reapportionment plans.
The court has until March 9 to decide if the maps comply with the Fair Districts anti-gerrymandering standards approved by voters in 2010. It has three options: Send the maps back to the Legislature to try again; validate the maps as compliant, validate the maps, but acknowledge that a lawsuit could be brought through the trial court to sort out flaws.
“You are the ultimate authority,’’ said Jon Mills, a University of Florida law professor and former House speaker arguing for the Florida Democratic Party. The Legislature’s interpretation “may be interesting but your interpretation is binding.” Read story here.