Florida Supreme Court orders redrawing of some U.S. congressional districts

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Reuters) - The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the redrawing of some of the state’s U.S. congressional districts before the 2016 elections.

In a 5-2 ruling, the state’s high court found the legislature’s redistricting plan was tainted by “unconstitutional intent to favor the Republican Party and incumbents,” the latest decision in a long-running legal battle over gerrymandering in the state.

The court identified at least eight congressional districts, out of the state’s 27, that need to be redrawn, including the seat currently occupied by Democrat Corrine Brown of Jacksonville. Adjacent districts also will be affected.

The state’s congressional maps, and in particular Brown’s oddly-shaped district stretching from Jacksonville to the Orlando area, have been the subject of ongoing litigation.

A circuit court judge ruled last year that the legislature’s 2012 maps “made a mockery” of anti-gerrymandering provisions in the state’s constitution.

“The court has made it abundantly clear that partisan gerrymandering will not be tolerated,” said attorney David King, representing a group of plaintiffs led by the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause.

The state’s high court urged the maps to be redrawn on an expedited basis. It was not immediately clear whether that would require the state legislature to meet in special session.

Reporting by Bill Cotterell and Letitia Stein; Editing by Bill Trott and Mohammad Zargham