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One-two punch: Trial court rejects Dems' request to put stop to Congressional map

In what has become a one-two punch today for the Florida Democrats' attempt to put a stop to the redistricting maps drawn by the Republican-led Legislature, a trial court judge on Monday refused their request for an injunction on the Congressional map pending a court review.

Democrats have filed a suit claiming that the Congressional map not only violates the contitutional ban against protecting incumbents and political parties but also unfairly packs black and Hispanic voters into districts to give Republicans an electoral advantage. They asked the court to stop the maps from taking effect this election cycle.

Second Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis wrote in a 20-page opinion released today that while he understands their concern "that if elections go forward under what is later determined to be an unconstitutional redistricting plan, Florida citizens will have been denied their righto to have meaningful participation in the election of their representatives. I do not find, however, that they have established a right to an injunctions."

He said that absent a determination that the map is unconstitutional "I do not have the authority to replace it with another map while the case is pending." Absent that, he said the result would be that the 2002 map would remain in effect -- a map, he said "was admittedly drawn to favor the Republican Party and incumbents."

Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Justice ruled that the maps as submitted do not violate the federal Voting Rights Act and may take effect for the 2010 elections.