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Florida judge rules 2012 redistricting illegal

[JURIST] A Florida judge ruled [opinion, PDF] Thursday that the state's 2012 congressional redistricting [JURIST backgrounder] plan illegally favors Republicans. Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis ordered that two of the state's 27 districts be redrawn, which will likely affect neighboring districts as well. Lewis found that the 2012 plan violated the Fair Districts Amendments, approved by voters in 2010 for the purpose of preventing legislators from redrawing the boundaries to favor one political party over another. Lewis wrote, "They made a mockery of the Legislature's proclaimed transparent and open process of redistricting by doing all of this in the shadow of that process." An appeal is expected [Reuters report].

Redistricting plans are controversial throughout the US, with numerous states' plans facing court challenges. Last month the US Supreme Court agreed to hear [JURIST report] two cases challenging Alabama's redistricting plans. In January the Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision in the case of Kostick v. Nago without issuing an opinion, upholding [JURIST report] the Hawaii state legislature's redistricting plan. In September a three-judge panel for the US District Court for the Western District of Texas ruled that the Obama administration would be allowed to join [JURIST report] the ongoing challenge to Texas' voter redistricting maps.

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