Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Supreme Court rules for GOP in South Carolina redistricting case

By 37ci3 May23,2024


WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled Republicans in South Carolina did not make race illegal when they drew congressional districts in ways that excluded thousands of Black voters, making it difficult for civil rights advocates to make claims of racial gerrymandering.

The court, split 6-3 along ideological lines with conservatives in the majority, said the civil rights group did not do enough to show lawmakers focused on race in drawing the Charleston district currently represented by Rep. Nancy Mays, a Republican.

While the Supreme Court was hearing the case, much slower than expectedA lower court invalidated the map and said it could be used for this year’s elections.

Therefore, the justices’ decision will not have an immediate impact in South Carolina, but it sets the course for future redistricting efforts and makes it easier to draw maps that do not favor Black voters, as long as mapmakers can show they are focused. about politics, not race.

Black voters in the South are Democratic, so it can be difficult to separate race from politics.

The court sided with Republican state officials, who said their sole purpose was to increase the Republican tilt in the district.

The decision will eliminate the need for Mace’s district to be redrawn, a blow to Democrats hoping for a more favorable map. A separate lawsuit filed by the plaintiffs against the map may continue.

Rep. Nancy Mace, RS.C.,
RSC Rep. Nancy Mace’s congressional district will not need to be redrawn, according to a Supreme Court ruling.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

Writing for the majority, conservative Justice Samuel Alito wrote that “no evidence” supports the lower court’s finding that race was a primary consideration in drawing the map.

“The underlying evidence is scant to show that race, not partisan preferences, drives the redistricting process,” he said.

Alito added that state lawmakers should be given the benefit of the doubt when faced with allegations that the maps were drawn with discriminatory intent.

“We should not be in a hurry to throw such accusations into political arms,” ​​he wrote.

In dissent, liberal Justice Elena Kagan wrote that the majority “stacked the deck” against the challengers. If the state can offer an alternative narrative that insists voters are divided based on partisan interests, evidence of an effect on black voters can be easily avoided.

“What message to send to state legislators and mapmakers about racial gerrymandering,” he said.

The message for politicians who “may want to directly stifle the electoral influence of minority voters” is: “Move right along,” Kagan said.

The Supreme Court was reviewing a lower court ruling in January 2023 that ruled that race predominated in one of the state’s seven districts. Republicans led by South Carolina Senate President Thomas Alexander appealed the decision.

Republicans redrawn the boundaries to strengthen GOP control of what has become a competitive district after the 2020 census.

Democrat Joe Cunningham won the seat in 2018 and narrowly lost to Mays in 2020. Two years later, when the new map went into effect, Mace won by a wider margin.

The nearly 30,000 black voters expelled from the district, black Democratic Rep. Placed in district held by James Clyburn. It is the only one of the seven congressional districts held by Democrats.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and other civil rights groups have argued that Republicans not only delegitimized race when they drew the maps, but also disempowered Black voters by doing so.

The lawsuits were filed under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which requires the law to be applied equally to all. The case arose under a different legal theory than the underlying decision this year civil rights activists successfully challenged Republican-drawn maps in Alabama under the Voting Rights Act.



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