This blog has moved.

Please visit our new page here https://www.miamiherald.com/naked-politics/

« The 8 congressional districts the Florida Supreme Court wants redrawn | Main | UPDATED Jeb Bush campaign raised $11.4M in first 16 days; Super PAC raked in $103M since January »

Reaction from members of Congress directly affected by Florida Supreme Court redistricting order

@PatriciaMazzei

Eight incumbent members of Congress were directly affected Thursday by the Florida Supreme Court's ruling that state lawmakers redraw their districts. (Other representatives will likely be indirectly affected by new boundaries.) 

Here's what the members of Congress had to say:

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami (District 27)

I look forward to representing the constituents of whatever district the court decides should be drawn up. It has been an incredible experience to have represented every part of Miami-Dade County during my years of public service so in whatever form the district ends up, it will be like coming home again. No worries.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami (District 26)

Since arriving in Washington I have been focused on improving the quality of life in South Florida and making our country stronger. The potential of new district lines is not a distraction for me nor will it diminish my desire to represent and serve the community in which my wife and I are raising our family.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami (District 25)

At this stage, I am still reviewing the Florida Supreme Court's opinion, and will be interested to see what the State Legislature will do.

Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach (District 22) -- statement from communications director Erin Hale

Florida's Congressional maps and redistricting are in the hands of the State Legislature. The Congresswoman is working hard to serve the residents of Palm Beach and Broward County. This Supreme Court decision will not change her focus on her constituents.

Rep. David Jolly, R-Tampa (District 13) -- statement from spokeswoman Sarah Bascom

Congressman Jolly has always considered District 13 to be a Pinellas county seat and has never concerned himself with where the district lines are drawn throughout the county.  The courts and the legislature will determine next steps and Congressman Jolly will remain focused solely on doing his job and serving all of Pinellas county.  As the Congressman has said many times, if he continues to do the job he was elected to do, the politics will take care of itself.

Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa (District 14)

Florida voters adopted Fair Districts amendments to our Florida Constitution and, today, the Florida Supreme Court reaffirmed that districts need to be drawn to ensure that all Floridians have fair representation. I agree with their decision.

No matter how new districts are ultimately drawn, I will continue to stand up for Tampa Bay area families, good jobs, good schools and equal opportunity for all. I am more committed than ever to standing up to the special interests that hold so much sway in Washington and am grateful for the bipartisan support of my friends and neighbors. I will remain focused on boosting higher wages, economic opportunity, college affordability and equal rights, and shifting district lines will only sharpen my focus.

Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville (District 5)

The decision by the Florida Supreme Court is seriously flawed and entirely fails to take into consideration the rights of minority voters.  It also fails to recognize federal law, in that it did not incorporate the spirit of the 1964 Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voting rights and clearly supersedes the contradictory standards set by the state’s Fair Districts requirements. 

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.  Nationally, prior to the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, between the years of 1832-1965 (133 years), there were only 28 elected African Americans.  From 1965-Present (49 years), there were/are 103 elected African Americans (four times as many, in nearly one-third the time span).

Overturning the current District 5 map ignores the essential redistricting principle of 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.  The current District 5 map is essentially the same as the previous District 3 map, which was drawn by the courts and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, in adherence to the principles of the Voting Rights Act.  In particular, there is one critical section of the Voting Rights Act which strictly prohibits the fracturing of communities of minority voters into a variety of districts.  This element of the Act is essential in the maintenance of minority representation not just in the state of Florida, but across the entire nation.

Moreover, the reason why African Americans live in the areas in which they do in the first place is a direct result of historical redlining, clearly exemplified by living patterns both here in the state of Florida and easily visible in other states.  In fact, after Emancipation and the Civil War, the Black population of northeastern Florida moved along the St. Johns River, which extends from Jacksonville to just north of Orlando.  Because the land was prone to flooding, it was only natural that the poorest Floridians, including freed slaves, would settle there.  Segregated housing patterns, demanded by restrictive covenants and enforced by Florida courts, kept the African-American population together well into the mid-20th Century, which is the central reason why these communities are segregated into those residential patterns across the state.

For most of my adult life, there were no minority members of Congress elected from Florida, and few African-Americans elected to the Florida House and Senate.  That changed in 1992 when I was elected to Congress together with Rep. Carrie Meek from Miami and Rep. Alcee Hastings from Ft. Lauderdale.

Yet to obtain this seat I had to file a lawsuit.  I fought for four African American seats in the courts, and in the end, we reached a compromise and got three, again – based on the tenets of The Voting Rights Act.  As a result of this lawsuit, in 1993, after nearly 130 years, the state of Florida had three African American federal representatives.  And for the first time in many years, minority community members in the state were represented by people who truly understood them; who grew up in the same neighborhoods and attended the same churches and schools as they did.  I firmly believe that I, as an African American legislator, can understand and empathize with the issues my constituents confront on a profound level since I share the same racial and cultural background as they do, and have had to battle many of the same challenges and prejudices that they have.

District 5 in Florida, and minority access districts across the nation cannot, will not be eliminated, particularly after the hard fought gains we have made during the last 50 years.  As a people, African Americans have fought too hard to get to where we are now, and we certainly are not taking any steps backwards.

This post has been updated.

Comments