People convinced that no political party holds a monopoly on virtue or skullduggery had their view reinforced by what took place in a courtroom in the state capital this week. Second Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis was holding a hearing in Tallahassee as part of the battle over the redrawing of Florida’s U.S. House districts by the Republican-led Legislature. Lewis had previously ruled that two of the House districts the Legislature created during the redistricting process violated the Fair Districts amendment to the Florida constitution voters approved in 2010. A coalition of groups that includes the League of Women voters had wanted Lewis to hold that a number of the House districts violated the amendment, but his ruling only invalidated two — the Fifth, held by Democrat Corrine Brown, and the 10th, held by Republican Daniel Webster. In his ruling, Lewis called the districts “bizarrely shaped.” The plaintiff groups challenging the districts lawmakers created said they were mapped out to improve GOP election chances. In front of Lewis this week, Stephen Ansolabe- here, a Harvard political science professor advising the plaintiffs, acknowledged an alternative redistricting map he drew for them had been “cleaned up” by a consultant for the National Committee for an Effective Congress. The NCEC is a Washington, D.C.-based political action committee founded by Eleanor Roosevelt that backs progressive political candidates. Last month, an attorney for the plaintiffs, when questioned by reporters, downplayed the NCEC’s role in producing Ansolabehere’s map.
We, too, find weirdly shaped U.S. House and legislative districts offensive. We are, however, aware that the party in power will always do what it can to maximize its incumbency.