WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24) today released the following open letter as the Florida Supreme Court to rule on Redistricting, urging the justices to reject redistricting map CP-1:
OPEN LETTER TO THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT
I am writing to humbly beseech the wisdom of the Florida Supreme Court concerning the redistricting of Florida’s congressional districts and express the grave implications of the lower court’s ruling of October 9, 2015. I harbor deep concerns regarding the redistricting process and the legal proceedings that have resulted.
As you are aware, before the 2010 census and resultant redistricting, District 24 was District 17. District 17 was classified in the 2010 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index as the “most suffering” congressional district in the nation. The newly created District 24 included PortMiami and other economic engines, which was a huge economic boost for the poorest and “most suffering” district in the nation and helped to shed that unfortunate designation.
As it stands with the lower court’s recommendation of the CP-1 map, the port and several other economic catalysts will be removed from District 24 and the district will undoubtedly revert back to being the “most suffering.” This would be a regression for the condition of the district and have a substantial negative impact on the district’s development.
The coalition’s maps CP-2 and CP-3 accomplishes this Court’s objective when the case was sent down for further action. However, the lower court treated those maps as afterthoughts and only refers to them as examples. They both address the higher court’s concern without creating the upheaval of CP-1.
It is especially disheartening and morally wrong that a coalition of Democrats recommended to the judiciary to sever the port and other economic engines from the “most suffering” district in America. We always think of Democrats as protecting the poor and lifting the downtrodden. In this case, they have failed miserably in that mission.
Further, the lower court referenced taking a scientific approach to its reasoning for accepting the plaintiff’s CP-1 map. In the CP-1 configuration, District 24 is disproportionately more compact than any of the districts 20 through 27. District 24 is twice as compact (.6016) as the average of districts 20 through 27 (.3097). Due to PortMiami’s and other economic catalysts lack of residents, including those vital economic engines into District 24 will help to alleviate the district being overly compact and minimally impact other districts.
The coalition map CP-1 needlessly concentrates African Americans into an excessively compacted geographic area. This is tantamount to “packing” voters and is contrary to the tenets of fair districting. The Supreme Court recently ruled that this practice is illegal based on a case that resulted from Alabama’s redistricting process, Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama. The action of Florida’s lower court is more troubling because it seems that CP-1 seeks to immediately confine residents behind political lines.
During the Segregation Era of American History railroad tracks were often used as a line of demarcation for communities. They separated black and white, as well as rich and poor. The lower court’s ruling accomplishes that same feat using political lines. It isolates poor people behind district lines and is a violation of the spirit of the Voting Rights Act as it intentionally separates races for voting purposes to give one party a political advantage.
I am disappointed with the decision of the lower court and if CP-1 is adopted District 24 will revert back to the “most suffering” district in the nation.
Frederica S. Wilson
Member of Congress