The US Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a bid South Carolina Officials are looking to revive a Republican-created ballot map that a lower court said unconstitutionally “banned” 30,000 black voters from a hard-fought congressional district.
The judges took up the appeal South Carolina Officials of a federal judges panel ruling that found the map drawn by Republicans had intentionally divided black neighborhoods in Charleston County in a “blatantly racist gerrymander” and ordered the district redraw.
Gerrymandering is a practice of manipulating constituency boundaries to marginalize a particular group of voters and increase the influence of others. In this case, Republican lawmakers were accused of racial manipulation to reduce the influence of black voters.
Legislative districts throughout the United States are being reshaped to reflect population changes documented in the statewide census conducted by the federal government every ten years. South CarolinaThe Republican-controlled Legislature passed a new voting map last year following the 2020 U.S. Census.
A major blow to electoral reformers was that in 2019 the Supreme Court rejected efforts to curb gerrymandering on partisan grounds, noting that federal judges had no authority to curb the practice. Alleged racist gerrymandering can be challenged in federal courts, but the Supreme Court, which has a conservative majority, has rolled back protections over the past decade.
In the South Carolina In this case, the map in question set new boundaries for the state’s 1st congressional district, which had consistently elected a Republican to the House of Representatives for nearly four decades until 2018, when a Democrat won what was widely regarded as an upset. In 2020, Republican Nancy Mace won the district by just over a percentage point.
In last year’s redevelopment of the district, Republicans moved more than 30,000 black Charleston County residents to the neighboring, mostly black 6th congressional district, which has been represented in the House for more than 30 years by Representative James Clyburn, a black Democratic congressman .
The Republican map resulted in a 1st Circuit with a larger proportion of white Republican voters. Mace, who is white, won re-election last November under the district’s new makeup by a margin of 14 percentage points.
The state conference of the civil rights group NAACP filed a lawsuit in 2022, arguing that several House districts created under the map were designed, at least in part, with “racially discriminatory intent to discriminate against black voters in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”
A panel of three federal judges ruled in January that the way the 1st district was drawn violated the rights of black voters under the 14th and 15th amendments, which guarantee equal legal protections and prohibit racial voter discrimination.
The strategies employed in establishing county boundaries, the panel wrote, “ultimately resulted in over 30,000 African American citizens being banned from their previous county and creating a clear racial conflict in Charleston County and the city of Charleston.”
The judges – all three appointed by Democratic presidents – ruled that elections could not be held in the 1st Circuit until it was redefined, and arranged to do so South Carolina Republican officials are appealing to the Supreme Court.
South Carolina NAACP and Taiwan Scott, a black voter residing in South CarolinaThe United States’ 1st congressional district on Monday asked judges to uphold the lower court’s decision.
“South Carolina“The US Congress map is the latest example in the long, painful history of racial discrimination in our state that needs to be addressed,” the statement said. “As the case moves to hearing, we beg the court to uphold the panel’s decision and protect Black South Carolina Voters from this egregious form of discrimination.”
The case will be heard during the Supreme Court’s next term, which begins in October.
In most states, redistribution of constituencies is carried out by the party in power, although some states delegate the task to independent commissions to ensure justice. Gerrymandering typically involves cramming voters who tend to favor a particular party into a small number of precincts in order to reduce their statewide voting power, while dispersing other voters in precincts that are too small to maintain a majority to build.
In another case involving redistribution and race, the Supreme Court is considering Alabama’s appeal against a lower court’s decision that a Republican-produced electoral map defining the boundaries of the state’s seven U.S. House of Representatives districts has unlawfully diluted influence of black voters. A decision in the case is expected by the end of June.
(Reporting by John Kruzel; Editing by Will Dunham)