The Double Billing of Florida Taxpayers

Florida State Capitol Building
Michael Rivera [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

Pity the Poor Florida Taxpayers.  They are paying for both the legal defense of a ballot measure they passed in the last election as well as the lawsuit challenging it.  

The people of Florida voted overwhelmingly (63%!) to amend their State Constitution to impose new redistricting criteria on the state legislature.  Those criteria restrict the state legislature's ability to politically gerrymander the districts to favor an incumbent or a political party.  The state legislature doesn't like those restrictions, wishing to engage in the excessive partisan gamesmanship that has marked their redistricting efforts in 2002.   But alas, the power belongs to the people, right?  Not so fast. 

Along come two members of Congress (one Democrat and one Republican and both the beneficiaries of severely gerrymandered districts) and challenge those amendments in federal court.  They sue State officials to declare the people's amendments unconstitutional.  So now taxpayer dollars are being used to defend a measure that passed the electorate by a whopping margin.  That's bad enough.  But get this.  The Florida House of Representatives has intervened on the side of the two Members of Congress to challenge the amendments.  So taxpayer dollars are being used to fund both the defense of the amendments and those attacking those amendments.   I'd be furious if I were a Florida taxpayer, whether I supported the amendments or not. 

Disclosure:  Legal Center Executive Director Gerry Hebert is defending the constitutional amendments in federal court, serving as co-counsel to a group of defendant-intervenors, including the Florida State Branches of the NAACP, who have intervened in the lawsuit brought by the Members of Congress.