South Carolina’s Racially Gerrymandered Congressional Map to Stand for 2024 Elections

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(Columbia, SC) – In a recent development, a three-judge district court has ruled to uphold South Carolina’s racially gerrymandered congressional map for the upcoming 2024 elections. This decision follows a delayed request by defendants seeking to maintain the unconstitutional map until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the panel’s post-trial order.

Over a year ago, the same three-judge panel unanimously identified South Carolina’s Congressional District 1 as a product of racial gerrymandering, crafted with discriminatory intent. Initially, the district court halted elections in the racially gerrymandered Congressional District 1 and instructed the state legislature to redraw it due to its adverse impact on Black voting rights. However, given the legislature’s deliberate inaction and the impracticality of holding elections without a revised map since last year, the court revisited its stance, acknowledging the necessity to prioritize practical considerations.

The battle for a fair District 1 map traces back to 2021, when members of plaintiff organizations urged state officials to adopt non-discriminatory district lines. The prolonged delay by the state legislature underscores a troubling pattern aimed at silencing Black voters in South Carolina and subverting the principles of fair representation and equal opportunity in the electoral process. In response to the court’s modification of the injunction, key stakeholders and advocacy groups have voiced their disappointment and condemnation of the state’s actions:

Leah Aden, senior counsel for the Legal Defense Fund (LDF), emphasized the injustice of subjecting plaintiffs to another election under an invalidated map, stressing their relentless pursuit of constitutional rights.

Brenda Murphy, President of the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, condemned the discriminatory maps as an attempt to suppress Black voices and underscored the imperative of upholding democratic principles.

Taiwan Scott, an individual plaintiff, asserted the right to a fair process and an equal say in electoral matters, denouncing discriminatory practices and advocating for justice in congressional elections.

Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux, deputy director for the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, criticized South Carolina’s failure to rectify its racially gerrymandered map, highlighting the erosion of democracy and the perpetuation of voter suppression.

Allen Chaney, legal director for the ACLU of South Carolina, decried lawmakers’ pursuit of power at the expense of democratic values, urging voters to remain vigilant.

Background: The decision is a pivotal development in the ongoing U.S. Supreme Court case concerning South Carolina’s racially gerrymandered congressional map, which displaced hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians, disproportionately impacting Black communities. Despite a pending ruling from the Supreme Court, the current map will govern the 2024 election cycle. The ruling stemmed from a unanimous decision by a panel of federal judges in January 2023, declaring Congressional District 1 unconstitutional due to racial gerrymandering. The case subsequently reached the U.S. Supreme Court, with oral arguments held in October 2023.

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