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- 2014 - January - 21st -

Brown’s district faces challenge

By Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida

The oft-maligned district represented by Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown is the target of a federal lawsuit by two voters arguing that it violates the U.S. Constitution.

The court challenge could open a new front in the already complicated legal battle over the political maps drawn by the Legislature in 2012, the first time lawmakers crafting legislative and congressional districts faced the anti-gerrymandering “Fair Districts” amendments approved by voters in 2010.

State challenges under those standards are already working their way through the court system.

But the federal complaint focuses more narrowly on the 5th Congressional District and says it violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

One of the two men filing the lawsuit, William Everett Warinner, is part of a state lawsuit against the maps. But the federal filing says he and James C. Miller Sr. “are reasonably concerned that those issues of state constitutional law will not be resolved in time to achieve effective relief before the 2014 congressional elections.”

The state case against the maps has been tied up in battles over access to documents and a fight over whether lawmakers could be forced to testify in court about the redistricting process.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled last month that they

could.

Brown’s district has long been controversial. In an effort to give minority voters a voice, it sprawls across eight counties as it winds from Duval County to Orange County, carving out enclaves of black voters to create a district likely to elect a candidate favored by African-Americans.

That allows more Republican-friendly seats to be drawn around it.

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