Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest. Now with nearly 400,000 members and supporters and 36 state organizations, Common Cause remains committed to honest, open and accountable government, as well as encouraging citizen participation in democracy.
Right now, legislators are waging a war — they're trying to undermine Fair Districts, the constitutional amendment to end gerrymandering. Read the story in the Orlando Sentinel.
The League of Women Voters, Democracia, NAACP, as well as five Florida voters filed suit against Gov. Rick Scott for withdrawing the necessary pre-clearance request to the Department of Justice. The suit asks the court to order Scott and Browning to resubmit the FairDistricts amendments to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for approval. Without that approval, the new redistricting reforms cannot legally go forward.
Under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, all new laws that affect voting in the five Florida counties with a history of racial discrimination must be submitted to the Justice Department for pre-clearance. Monroe, Hillsborough, Hardee, Hendry and Collier are the designated counties subject to these requirements.
Governor Charlie Crist, complying with this requirement, filed the necessary paper work with the Justice Department in December 2010. Soon after taking office, Governor Scott withdrew the request.
The suit seeks to compel Governor Scott to comply with his constitutional duty to resubmit the request for pre-clearance. The case will be decided in Miami by a 3-judge panel.
State Chair, Common Cause Florida
Federal Judge Ursula Ungaro threw out a suit that attempted to hold FairDistricts Amendment 6 unconstitutional. The Florida House of Representatives and two members of Congress, Corinne Brown and Mario Diaz Balart brought the case in a blatant attempt to avoid having to follow the fairness standards for redistricting passed by 63% of Florida voters last November. Read our Sept. 9 press release.
Common Cause Florida is continuing to push for fair redistricting in the state. Despite the passage of Amendments 5 & 6 in November 2010, lawmakers are continuing to fight to gerrymander districts for political advantage.
The amendments add standards to the Florida Constitution for the legislature to follow in legislative and Congressional redistricting. They prohibit drawing districts with intent to favor incumbents or political parties; protect minority voting rights and require that districts be compact and community based.
Common Cause is at the forefront of monitoring the redistricting process throughout the state of Florida. We will work with other organizations to develop a coalition of citizen groups to ensure that the new standards are properly implemented.
Read our February 3 press release asking the court to enforce voting rights laws.