After losing repeatedly in state court, the Florida House of Representatives has joined a federal lawsuit to stop the new amendments designed to stop the Legislature from drawing political districts that favor or disfavor incumbents or political parties.
The federal lawsuit was filed just after the November elections by U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Miami) and Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville). The suit, though, only concerned the portion of redistricting concerning Congress, not the Legislature. As a result, the Florida House argues that the Legislature should have a say, too.
"It is the Legislature—not Plaintiffs—which has the primary responsibility for redistricting. And it is the Legislature—not Plaintiffs—whose prerogative will be challenged (and potentially invalidated) under the Amendment," the suit says.
Democrats are crying foul. Along with liberal-leaning groups like the teachers' unions, Democrats backed the amendments, which could loosen the Republicans' grip on the Legislature and in Florida's congressional delegation.
The filing has some other interesting political dynamics. The House is led by Dean Cannon, who has been bristling at the judiciary for throwing some of the Legislature's proposed amendments off the ballot -- including an amendment he sponsored to check Amendments 5 & 6, which he's now trying to kill in court. So on one hand, judicial activism is bad when it comes to acts of the Legislature. But when citizens pass amendments with more than 60 percent of the vote..... then it's time to get the federal judiciary to strike the language from the state constitution.
There are probably some complicated legal arguments that Cannon can and will muster to rectify the potentially contradictory stances. Still, it's worthy of note.
Another side note: The Florida Senate, where Senate President Mike Haridopolos is running for U.S. Senate, hasn't joined with the House in challenging Fair Districts. At least not yet. Here's the filing: