Eleventh Circuit Upholds Florida Initiative On Redistricting

On January 31, the Eleventh Circuit upheld Florida’s new initiative that says when U.S. House districts are drawn, the legislature must not favor or disfavor any political party or any incumbent. Here is the 32-page decision, Brown v Florida House of Representatives, 11-14554.

The Florida initiative had been challenged by Democratic U.S. House member Corrine Brown, and Republican U.S. House member Mario Diaz-Balart. The U.S. District Court had also upheld the initiative. The two members of Congress had argued that Article One of the U.S. Constitution requires that only legislatures pass laws concerning congressional elections. But the Eleventh Circuit said that “legislature” within Article One includes the initiative process, because Florida’s constitution itself contemplates that the voters exercise legislative powers when they use the initiative. In a sense, the voters become the legislature. Thanks to Rick Hasen for the link. UPDATE: see this news story about the decision.


Eleventh Circuit Upholds Florida Initiative On Redistricting — No Comments

  1. Are the EVIL gerrymander MONSTERS like rats in a corner or what ???

    Sorry to put rats in the same category as the gerrymander MONSTERS.
    Automatic minority rule with ALL current single member districts.

    1/2 votes x 1/2 gerrymander districts = 1/4 CONTROL — which AIN”T Democracy.

    P.R. NOW.

  2. Well-written opinion, and certainly plausible. But in the end I think it wrong. The Supreme Court has allowed referenda, like gubernatorial vetoes, to reject legislative enactments in the elections context. But it has not said that contstitutionally-based initiatives can be used to restrict legislative action. The Eleventh Circuit says that it is “hard-pressed to understand how the term ‘Legislature’ as used inthe Elections Clause could properly include within its ambit the governor’s and people’s ability to flatly reject redistricting legislation, but would not also include the people’s lawfully prescribed initiative power to provide some guidance for
    how the legislature may exercise its discretion in drawing congressional districts.” But the U.S.Constitution does that in at least two places; presidents can veto, not write, legislation, and the Senate can reject, but not pick, principal officers. So there is a world of difference between the two. Hope this one is appealed to the 11th Circuit en banc and then to the Supreme Court.

  3. #2 You’re thinking the SCOTUS ought to get this case because it is not clear enough whether “constitutionally-based initiatives can be used to restrict legislative actions” The 11th Circuit thinks there’s enough case law not to have a problem, at all. But you’re right to want it even clearer yet because one can ask themself: Could the SCOTUS craft an opinion that holds the opposite but is limited to the arbitrariness their taken with, and nothing more? Yes they could, but I hope they won’t, even for absolute claritys sake.

    I enthusiasticly voted for Amendment 6 in November 2010, (honestly, I was never prouder to be a Floridian when both 5 and 6 passed, and on the same day Rick Scott was elected governor. Nothing even as half as wierd has ever been included in Ripley’s Believe-it-or-Not!) and it passed by more than the state constitutionally mandated 60% supermajority
    after signatures had been gathered and the FL Supreme Court proofed it for all the specific and more general objections they can and do apply when their inclined.

    So if it’s reversed, the logic would have be that initiatives need to always steer clear of any function of a state legislature that also refered to in the U.S.constitution or if the SCOTUS wanted to come out of the closet a little more than that, hold that any state constutional amending via initiative must not be the least little bit meta-legislative, that is no alterations allowed with regard to the political process, political representation, legislative procedure or parliamentary law.

    My fear is that could, would happen. The SCOTUS is–many might know–anti-voter. Everything since Baker v Carr is distressing to evil.They tolerate so well the great ballot access morass, the insensitivity to
    gerrymandering, they hate fusion, I could go on but in short there exists a great firewall they’ve helped build that keeps voters from ever being able to consider or identify superior methods by which THEY would be represented or otherwise express themselves.

    This reversal you’re hoping for is consistent to all that, and would have the added benefit making initiatives mere policy-tinkering apolitical devises that would continue occupy our efforts and reduce at the same time voters actually developing a check–or spending time–on political injustice, two-party duopoly, political finance, etc.

    The SCOTUS probably sees this as their job. It’s voters first I say, and if it reversed, impeach the court!

  4. #3. I favor the norm embodied in the Florida initiatives. I just happen to think that the Framers did not intend the people to enjoy this power in the context of federal elections. Rather, the Framers opted for republican control; hence the state legislature. If 11th Circuit is correct, then one suspects that state agencies can also regulate federal elections, which I think would be disatrous.

  5. # 4 The 1787 folks made lots of EVIL ANTI-Democracy compromises.

    Result – genocide of the American Indian tribes until about 1890, slavery until 1865 – nonstop racism since,
    UN-declared wars, INSANE deficits and accumulated national debts.

    Democracy NOW
    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V. — also for the nonpartisan ELECTION of SCOTUS — to END its EVIL elitist oligarchy stuff.

  6. #2 The decision seems to place some emphasis that the amendment to the Florida constitution is only regulating how the legislature legislates.

    “It’s also worth noting that Amendment Six is housed in Article III, the legislative article of the Florida Constitution. Amendment Six, like the preceding nineteen sections of Article III, explicates the power of the legislature and sets forth the rules that govern how the legislature may act. See Fla. Const. art. III, §§ 1-19 (prescribing, among other things, the composition of the legislature, when sessions shall be held, what constitutes a quorum, and how bills are passed). Amendment Six simply informs the process by which the legislature is to go about its task of redistricting. Like the rest of Article III, it constitutes an integal part of the state’s lawmaking power.”

    But compare this to the initiative in California that completely took congressional redistricting authority out of legislative control and vested it in another quasi-legislative body, and did not amend the legislative article of the California Constitution. It even included a referendum provision, which implies the enactments of the redistricting commission are the equivalent of laws passed by the legislature.

    Also interesting is the issue of whether “districts
    shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice”, is an improper manner regulation since it is dictating outcomes. If true, then certain parts of the VRA are also unconstitutional.

  7. ANY body with half a brain can detect that 15th Amdt, Sec. 1 is ONLY about the definition of Elector (in NEGATIVE language) and has ZERO to do with ANY thing on the ballots — i.e. offices and issues.

    I.E. in 1966 the SCOTUS Warren politically correct court subverted the Const. even more with its 1965 VRA case.

    Thus the nonstop racist stuff since 1966 in a zillion VRA cases. See the latest Texas gerrymander super-mess.

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