Redistricting always seems to rear its head mid-decade, long after most states have put their maps away. Texas has redrawn its initial congressional maps at least once every decade since the 1970s — often under court order. With yesterday’s judicial ruling that two districts in Florida were unconstitutional, that state has joined the party this decade.
— A circuit court judge in Florida said Thursday that FL-05 and FL-10 were drawn with partisan intent and will have to be remapped. FL-05 is Rep. Corrine Brown‘s (D) meandering, majority-black district stretching from Jacksonville to Orlando, while FL-10 is Rep. Dan Webster‘s (R) neighboring seat, a R+6 district where Webster nevertheless had a difficult race in 2012.
— Don’t expect anything to change this year; with appeals in the works and Florida’s primaries looming, 2016 is a more likely — and potentially more interesting — time to expect changes to the map, should the decision survive appeal. Consider, especially, that Republicans might not have unified control of a legislative remapping process, should Charlie Crist (D) win the governor’s race.
— Webster’s 2016 race could get very interesting in that scenario. Any changes to the boundaries of his district would seem likely to bring in more of Central Florida’s booming Puerto Rican population, which has helped make the region more Democratic recently — but is largely missing from Webster’s carefully drawn district. Webster ran behind Mitt Romney in 2012, and Democrats would love to have former sheriff and 2012 candidate Val Demings (D) take another shot at some point.
As Florida sorts out its maps and legal challenges, Texas continues to move forward with its own court saga this month. The middle years of this decade have plenty to offer redistricting junkies.
— Scott Bland
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Along party lines, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to tighten privacy standards for Internet service providers. "The regulations will require providers to receive explicit customer consent before using an individual’s web browsing or app usage history for marketing purposes. The broadband industry fought to keep that obligation out of the rules."
President Obama commuted the sentences of another 98 drug offenders on Thursday. Most of the convicts were charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs or possession with intent to distribute. Many of the sentences were commuted to expire next year, but some will run longer. Others are required to enroll in residential drug treatment as a condition of their release.
The Department of Justice announced today it's charged "61 individuals and entities for their alleged involvement in a transnational criminal organization that has victimized tens of thousands of persons in the United States through fraudulent schemes that have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. In connection with the scheme, 20 individuals were arrested today in the United States and 32 individuals and five call centers in India were charged for their alleged involvement. An additional U.S.-based defendant is currently in the custody of immigration authorities."
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that "there was “precedent” for a Supreme Court with fewer than nine justices—appearing to suggest that the blockade on nominee Merrick Garland could last past the election." Speaking to reporters in Colorado, Cruz said: "I would note, just recently, that Justice Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have.”