The League of Women Voters of Florida brought the lawsuit challenging the redistricting plan, arguing that state Republicans had drawn congressional districts with the purpose of favoring GOP-candidates in violation of the Fair Districts Amendments to the state constitution, specifically intended to prohibit this kind of gerrymandering. Judge Lewis agreed, finding that the congressional redistricting plan was constitutionally invalid and ordering two districts, District 5 and District 10 to be redrawn as well as any other district affected by the redrawing. District 5 is currently held by Democrat Corrine Brown, and District 10 is held by Republican Dan Webster.
Florida state legislators now have until Aug 15 to redraw a map. Judge Terry, in a subsequent order, stressed that "time is of the essence," and noted that Florida's 2014 election could be delayed. "Even if a revised map was in place today," Lewis wrote, "the legal and logistical machinations it would take to have the election take place on November 4th under that revised map is not something justified by law or common sense. There is just no way, legally or logistically, to put in place a new map, amend the various deadlines and have elections on November 4th, as prescribed by Federal law."
After the deadline, Judge Terry will consider evidence concerning the "legal and logistical obstacles to holding delayed elections for affected districts in 2014." Legislators expect to close the special session by Tuesday, August 12, according to a report by the Tampa Bay Times.
Media Resources: Tampa Bay Times 8/7/14, 7/10/14; Scribd; Circuit Court of the Second Judicial Circuit (Leon County, FL)
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .