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House Comments on Attorney General Brief Relating to Redistricting

April 9, 2002
The Florida House of Representatives

The Attorney General today issued a brief to the Supreme Court suggesting, with no legal basis, that the Supreme Court should declare the recently enacted joint-resolution creating House and Senate electoral districts to be invalid.  In a total about-face to the argument General Butterworth made in 1992, he is now suggesting to the Supreme Court that it should invalidate the Legislature's plan because of lack of rigid standards.

"It is unfortunate that the Attorney General has chosen to depart from his own precedents and the duties imposed on him by the Constitution in order to file a partisan brief that neither accurately states the facts and the law nor correctly characterizes the role of the Supreme Court," said Speaker Tom Feeney.

"Not only is this position legally and factually incorrect, but it is contrary to the argument that he made to the Supreme Court ten years ago.  In 1992, a Legislature controlled by Democrats explicitly rejected adopting standards.  Despite the lack of standards, Mr. Butterworth's brief to the Supreme Court at that time forcefully urged adoption of the Democrat's plan," said Representative Johnnie Byrd, Chairman of the Procedural and Redistricting Council.

"The Attorney General's argument on lack of standards is factually and legally incorrect.  We met with the Attorney General's staff Friday and explained the standards used by the Legislature, which included compliance with United States' Constitutional Principles, the Voting Rights Act, Federal statutory principles as well as State constitutional standards and principles.  Those standards were clearly explained in committee and floor debates and are part of the record," said Miguel De Grandy, counsel for the House of Representatives on Reapportionment.

"The Attorney General's approach is unprecedented.  Without even citing the volumes of case law that clearly establish a presumption of validity of the Legislative Plan, he in effect asked the Supreme Court to supplant its judgment for that of the Legislature," said Speaker Feeney.

The Attorney General states that: "the designed purpose of this court's role in the reapportionment process is to preclude, to the extent possible, future successful challenges to the reapportionments, particularly in the Federal Courts".

"That is certainly not what he stated to the court in 1992, nor is that language found anywhere in the Constitution of State of Florida," said De Grandy.