U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown on Friday slammed the federal lawsuit against the state that is aimed at dismantling the meandering district that she represents. The plaintiffs in the case are Gainesville residents but they are being represented by two law firms with ties to the Democratic Party.
Brown, a Jacksonville Democrat, represents a multi-county district that was first drawn in 1992, during a different era -- when the courts required that districts be drawn to maximize minority voting strength. Since then, Florida voters enacted a law requiring that districts be compact, preserve minority voting strength and prohibit any attempt to favor incumbents.
The plaintiffs allege that the district, which was endorsed by the NAACP, violates their federal right to equal protection because they allege that it packs black Democrats into the district in an attempt to make the adjoining districts more white and Republican. They describe the district as following a "serpentine route."
Brown, a 21-year incumbent, said in a statement that rejecting her district will set the clock back.
"Prior to the 1992 election, Florida had not had a federal African American representative since Josiah Thomas Walls in 1871, a time span of 129 years,'' she wrote. "Overturning the current District 5 map would ignore an essential redistricting principle: maintaining communities of interest or minority access districts. Certainly, minority communities do not live in compact, cookie-cutter like neighborhoods, and excessive adherence to district 'compactness' while ignoring the maintenance of minority access districts fragments minority communities across the state."
She acknowledged that her district, congressional District 5, "is essentially the same as the previous District 3, which was drawn by the courts and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court."
In addition to the federal lawsuit, the district is being challenge in circuit court in Florida by some of the same plaintiffs for violating the constitutional protections that prohibit legislators from favoring incumbents or political parties. Brown failed to mention, however, that the district upheld by the courts in the past was drawn prior to the enactment of the current constitutional amendments.
Here is Brown's full statement (her emphasis added):