The state Supreme Court ruled Friday that legislators and their staffs must testify in a case that accuses Republicans of redrawing political boundaries for partisan advantage in violation of the state Constitution.
The 5-2 decision means that the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and others can force Republican senators and key staff members to testify under oath about their motives in drawing districts. The plaintiffs claim emails show that the GOP plotted with party officials and political consultants for partisan advantage in the 2012 remapping of Senate and congressional districts.
In a blistering dissent, Justice Charles Canady, joined by Chief Justice Ricky Polston, called the majority’s conclusions “unprecedented” and said the ruling “grievously violates the constitutional separation of powers.”
“For the first time in the recorded history of our Republic, a court has ruled that state legislators are required to submit to interrogation in a civil case concerning their legislative activities,” Canady wrote.
The 2012 reapportionment was the first in Florida that had to comply with two voter-approved “fair districts” amendments to the state Constitution that prohibit partisan gerrymandering.