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Appeals Court Rejects Diaz-Balart’s Fla. Redistricting Challenge

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ATLANTA (CBSMiami.com) – For the second time, a federal court has rejected efforts by US Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami to toss out amendments to the Florida Constitution that changed the way the state redraws maps of state and federal legislative districts.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta  rejected claims by Diaz-Balart, a Republican, and Corrine Brown, a Democrat, who teamed to challenge the amendments, which were approved by the voters after they were placed on the ballot by petition.

The lawsuit was filed just hours after Amendment 5 and 6 passed. The two representatives, along with the Florida House, had contended that only the Legislature can change the rules in drawing Florida’s districts for Congress.

The state constitutional amendments forbid the gerrymandering of Congressional districts. Gerrymandering is when a state legislature creates specific districts by carving pieces out of other districts to benefit the party in power.

Both Rep. Brown and Rep. Diaz-Balart have benefited from the gerrymandering of districts, which made it easier for Diaz-Balart and Brown allowed them to become members of Congress.

The lawsuit claimed the state legislature would be unconstitutionally limited due to the restrictions and that fewer minorities would be elected.

The NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union opposed Brown and Diaz-Balart’s challenge. Both groups said the new rules would strengthen protections for minorities because it prohibits legislators from drawing districts that could hurt the election chances of a candidate they like.

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