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Another break-through ruling: Divided Supreme Court takes Bainter redistricting appeal

The unprecedented rulings keep on coming. A divided Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear the question of whether 537 pages of documents of political consultant Pat Bainter should have been introduced in a lawsuit by a coalition of voters groups challenging the state's congressional redistricting maps.

In a 5-2 decision, the court said it would decide the case at the urging of the appeals court last week. It ordered that briefs be filed on a schedule, concluding on July 31. The majority offered no reason for its decision but Chief Justice Ricky Polston, who was joined in the dissent by Justice Charles Canady, scolded the other justices for accepting the case.

"We take jurisdiction of this case to do what?" Polston wrote. " ... The procedural posture of this case is unprecedented and bizarre." Download SCOFLA certifies Bainter redistricting

The challenge to the state's congressional districts was brought by a coalition of voting groups led by the League of Women Voters. Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis is expected to rule on the case any day. The parties submitted their final arguments to Lewis nearly two weeks ago, but the fate of 537 pages of documents produced by Bainter and his Gainesville-based consulting firm, Data Targeting, Inc., remains in dispute.

Bainter claims the documents -- emails, proposed maps and other communications -- are trade secrets and releasing them in the redistricting dispute violates his First Amendment rights. Lewis ordered the documents sealed unless they were admitted as evidence in the case.

Bainter appealed Lewis' ruling, and the First District Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay, which kept the documents under seal and forced the closure of the trial to the public when Bainter was called to testify.

Last week, a divided appellate court voted 5-4 to reverse a previous ruling of three conservative members of that court and voted to pass the question surrounding Bainter's documents to the Florida Supreme Court.

This is the second time that the precedent-setting redistricting case has clearly exposed the divides within the courts.

The four appellate court dissenters in the ruling last week -- Wetherell, Lewis, Makar and Marstiller -- were that panel's most conservative justices. Wetherell even wrote a dissent protesting that the process of using the full court en banc was abused to overturn the three justices. Download First DCA certifying Bainter redistricting

Polston and Canady, both Republicans, who wrote the dissent today are consistently the two most conservative on the Florida Supreme Court bench.

Comments

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gary

The liberals control the bench. No new news here.

ed jenkins

The citizens continue to be bothered that these cartographers and the group which claims to represent one sex of voters continue to waste taxpayer confiscated funds on mundane government administrative procedures. They recommend these people who have too much time on their hands consult their local congressman on this matter and end this nonsense.

palmettoexile

Mr.ed, I truly wish you'd find something new and different to post-just for grins, ya know? Seems as if you save a comment you like and then just paste it anywhere.
I don't believe the Repubs trying to hide transcripts, emails, and the strange facts about the maps drawn by a college student that have miraculously shown the disputed redistricting is a matter of wrongdoing by either "gender" or "cartographers". Rather, this is a blatant attempt by those Repub legislators-Gaetz, Weatherford, etc., to hide the fact that they used more than a few somewhat hinky methods to arrive at their idea of what "Fair Districts" are in this state. In trying to keep secret the ways in which they arrived at their decidedly UNFAIR redistricting, they are circumventing, (or trying their best to do so)an amendment passed by the voters in this State. Since redistricting can occur only every 10 years when we conduct the census, the current map affects every voter in the State, and will do so for the next 10 years. The voter-approved Fair Districting Act stipulated that the voting district lines cannot be drawn to favor either an incumbent or a political party. In attempting to use the courts to hide the behind-closed door, last minute bills tacked on at the end of the Legislative session, Gaetz et. al., are deliberately and willfully going against a voter-approved law. The Republicans in this state apparently believe that they are not subject to any rule of law; they make it up as the circumstances occur. The time has passed for Scott and his Republican colleagues to be voted out of office. These people have,among other things, been responsible for the almost total decline of the middle class. Scott's administration, following that of Jeb, has systematically gutted the State. Crony capitalism is their credo-they have all prospered while the majority of the regular folk suffered. Defining District lines to protect Republican incumbents or to help Republican candidates is illegal. That, coupled with the shameful suppression of voters by any means possible, is the only way the Repugs in this State can hope to maintain their hold on the Legislature.

Christopher M. Kennard

Yes, it would be hard to disagree with the above comments noting the duplicity of the Republican Party in attempting to subvert the will of the people regarding fair voting districts.

Rest assured however, that both political parties over the years have endeavored to favor their own candidates; and the wealthy elite who "buy" the politicians and both parties, Democrat as well as Republican, intend to rule us by such political manipulations.

I intend to "fire" everyone running for re-election to public office in Ocala and Marion County, Florida, on the local, state and federal level.

Not one current politician deserves to be re-elected. New candidates need to be elected. If they can't do the job, then we elect someone else until we have good, honest, intelligent people in office who with to serve the public good, not make millions off the backs of taxpayers. I believe many are beginning to feel the same way.

See y'all at the voting polls this November 4th! Bring a friend to vote, and "double" your own personal impact upon this election!

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