A Florida judge threw out the state's 2012 congressional redistricting plan on Thursday, saying Republicans conspired to manipulate the boundaries to protect the party's majority in Washington and "made a mockery" of the rules of transparency in the process.
In the 41-page ruling Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis specifically ordered that two of the state's 27 districts should be redrawn as they violated a "Fair Districts Florida" standard approved by voters in 2010 to ban legislators from favoring or protecting incumbents.
"What is clear to me from the evidence ... is that this group of Republican political consultants or operatives did in fact conspire to manipulate and influence the redistricting process," Lewis wrote.
"They managed to taint the redistricting process and the resulting map with improper partisan intent," he added.
The decision followed a 13-day trial that ended in early June during which several groups, including the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause, challenged the redistricting plan under which 17 Republicans and 10 Democrats were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Although Democrats hold a slight edge in voter registration across Florida, Republicans have 17 of the state's 27 seats in the House.