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Cannon: House to appeal redistricting lawsuit

House Speaker Dean Cannon said Thursday that the House will join U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown and Mario Diaz-Balart to appeal the trial court's ruling that rejected their challenge to the Fair Districts Amendment 6. Cannon said that the decision by Federal Judge Ursula Ungaro was wrong and included "some factual inaccuracies that reflect a basic misapprehension of facts."

Ungaro ruled on Sept. 9 that the amendment passed by a majority of Florida voters last November did not violate the U.S. Constitution as Brown, a Democrat from Jacksonville, and Diaz-Balart, a Republican from Miami, had argued in their lawsuit.

Amendment 6 forbids the state Legislature from drawing congressional boundaries that favor a political party or incumbent. 

Cannon defended the legal expense of the lawsuit and said that the Legislature will continue with its redistricting efforts despite the appeal. But he believes the constitutional amendment violates the U.S. Constitution's requirement that the state Constitution cannot preempt the federal Constitution's control over Congresss, including the redistricting rules, and requires clarification for future legislatures. Here's the lawsuit: Download 089 Joint Notice of Appeal[1]

"We intend to draw maps that fully comply with the language in Amendments 5 and 6 because...it's unlikely that the court will even rule on this until probably after the fact,'' he said.

Cannon said that if the issue gets to the U.S. Supreme Court, as expected, and if the high court throws out Amendment 6, as he and the congressmen hope will happen, the ruling could apply to several other states which have imposed rules on congressional redistricting. But, he added, there are several inconsistencies.

 "This appeal is not about altering the process which we are already following and which remains unchanged,'' he said. They will continue to try to get maximum public input and participation.

He also took his licks at the sponsors of the amendment, the bi-partisan Fair Districts.org for failing to propose maps. (No individual legislators or party officials have eithers.) Cannon said "If Fair Districts want to be seen as anything but a left-wing special interest group, they should propose maps, instead of bashing the game because they don't like the score."