Judge Invalidates Florida Redistricting; A Victory For Florida Democrats and the Non-partisan, Non-profit Organizations That Work For Them

Yesterday evening, a Florida judge held that portions of Florida’s latest Congressional redistricting ran afoul of the state’s Fair Districts amendments, which “call for the decennial redistricting process to be conducted without taking into account partisan makeup or incumbent advantage.”  According to Politico, the judge did “not specify whether new district lines need to be drawn for the 2014 elections. The court will have to order further motions to determine the next steps, but it’s unclear when those motions will be delivered. The Legislature is also expected to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.”

A variety of “non-partisan” nonprofit organizations celebrated the ruling. As Politico explains, “The plaintiffs in the case — the League of Women Voters, Common Cause of Florida and other Democratic-aligned groups — were largely funded by National Democratic Redistricting Trust, which was formed to fund the party’s efforts to combat Republicans who sought to solidify their historic win in 2010 through the redistricting process.”

One of the “non-partisan” nonprofits involved in representing the Democratic Party was the Campaign Legal Center. The Center’s Executive Director, Gerald Hebert, issued a statement: “The Florida Legislature ignored the law and the will of Florida voters and let itself be hijacked by Republican political consultants and operatives.  The decision today is a devastating indictment of those who manipulated the redistricting process secretly behind closed doors and tried to shield it from the public.”

This statement is a fairly typical statement from a litigant who just won a “political” case.  What is notable is that in criticizing the “political consultants and operatives,” Hebert fails to mention that he’s one too, and that he now uses his perch at the non-partisan, nonprofit Campaign Legal Center to pursue the exact same work he did for the Democratic Party during the past 15 years.

Not too long ago, “From 1999 to 2002, Gerry [Hebert] served as General Counsel to IMPAC 2000, the National Redistricting Project for Congressional Democrats.”  In 2004, PBS referred to Hebert as “a Democratic redistricting operative,” and in 2011, NPR called him “a Democrat who often handles election law cases.”  Hebert has represented Texas Democrats in redistricting litigation during the past two rounds of redistricting: in the mid-2000s, he represented a number of Texas Democrats challenging Texas’ redistricting plan, and he took on the same role in litigation stretching from 2011 through 2013.