South Carolina must redraw its congressional map according to a recent ruling. The state’s high court found that maps drawn by the state’s majority-controlled Republican legislature were racial gerrymandering. Specifically, the court took issue with the redistricting of Congressional District 1, which includes Charleston County.
Reporting from the Post Courier noted the legislature has until the end of March to redraw the map. The outlet also noted that Republican Rep. Nancy Mace will not be affected at the moment, the district will likely look different in the 2024 race.
The unanimous three-judge panel held that “[r]educing the African American population in Charleston County so low as to bring the overall black percentage in Congressional District No. 1 down to the 17% target was no easy task and was effectively impossible without the gerrymandering of the African American population of Charleston County.”
Taiwan Scott, one of the plaintiffs in the case called the decision a recognition of the “egregious generations-long effort to box us out of representation” in a statement released by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
“For decades, South Carolina has tried to push Black voters out of the electoral process and effectively silence us with maps that dilute our political power,” Scott said. “While there is still a lot of work to be done, we are one step closer to rectifying South Carolina’s long history of voter suppression and one step closer to the representation we deserve.”
LDF and the ACLU led the legal effort to undo the unconstitutional maps and ensure Black South Carolina voters are protected under the Constitution. Both organizations remain committed to ensuring the South Carolina legislature adopts a “fair and non-racially gerrymandered congressional map.”
“South Carolina lawmakers tried to surgically carve up Black communities in parts of the state to secure their own political power,” Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project said. “The court was right to block this brazen effort to undermine voters and our democratic process.”
The maps are a part of a larger battle over gerrymandered maps that have played out around the country. Maps in Louisiana and Alabama have been on hold pending a Supreme Court case challenging similar allegations of racial gerrymandering.
The case Merrill v. Milligan involves section two of the Voting Rights Act and protecting Black voting power from being diluted in redistricting. Gerrymandering was also one of the issues voting rights advocates attempted to address in reforms ahead of the 2022 election.
“The panel of judges not only found South Carolina’s congressional map to be racially gerrymandered but also recognized discriminatory intent in drawing the map,” said Brenda Murphy, president of the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP. “This reveals the lengths that were taken to exclude the voices of Black South Carolinians from the halls of Congress. With this order and its call for barring all future congressional elections in CD 1 and ordering the General Assembly to submit a remedial map, we are emboldened and encouraged that we will see fairer congressional maps for South Carolina.”
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