A hitch in redistricting draws the attention of the ACLU, Gov.-elect Rick Scott makes Florida's miseducation even worse and there's a hairball in your homeless food!
Published: December 23, 2010
It was the one tiny hole in Florida’s post-election day progressive fallout shelter – the only opening through which a forgiving straw could be inserted as a means of dispensing the necessary alcoholic salve to numb the wounds of political obliteration – so naturally, there’s a Democrat out there looking to stick a piece of gum in it. On Nov. 2, Floridians tried to wrap their heads around the gaping yawn of redistricting (fact: there is nothing more boring), passing “Fair Districting” Amendments 5 and 6 by a notable 63 percent, thereby insuring that no longer would the Sunshine State fall victim to the ills of the worst word ever: gerrymandering.
The whole idea behind the amendments’ respective campaigns was logical: Legislative districts probably shouldn’t be drawn like tall skinny stick figures with their arms outstretched into whatever gated community is home to the most pale and affluent – and therefore probably Republican – voters. In fact, districts should mind existing geographical boundaries (county, city) instead of stretching a thin congressional torso between Jacksonville and Lake Okeechobee. Also, they shouldn’t pigeonhole minorities. Everybody wins, right? Yes.
Well, not if you’re a minority already in office. U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville (and Orlando?), immediately countered the will of the people the day after the election, filing a lawsuit in tandem with her colleague U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, to stop Amendment 6 well before it even started to do anything. If their argument is to be believed – and it isn’t – the new law will pose a threat to six existing Florida legislative districts where minorities already hold a majority or something close to one; by reaching around their elbows to get to their asses, the representatives came upon the belief that this new legislation is in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. Translation: They’d prefer that this whole redistricting effort not challenge their own personal incumbencies, thank you very much. The only minorities that matter are the ones that are already in power.
Because it’s what they do, the American Civil Liberties Union jumped into the battle on Dec. 16 with their own motion to intervene in the suit. The ACLU contends that the State of Florida itself is too broad of a party to effectively argue for Amendment 6 seeing as both Brown and Diaz-Balart are, by definition, Floridians. Nope, this would be a job for the pros.
“We hope the federal courts reject this bizarre analysis of the Voting Rights Act by which the protection of minority voting rights is transformed into a law that protects minority office-holders,” ACLU executive director Howard Simon said in a statement. “The ACLU intends to defend the people’s amendments and put an end to gerrymandering.”
Could you pour a little booze through that hole while you’re at it?
> Email Jeff Gore and Billy Manes