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Supreme Court finds no bias against Black voters in a South Carolina congressional district

The case differed from one in Alabama in which the court ruled last year that Republican lawmakers diluted Black voters' political power.
Supreme Court
Posted at 10:45 AM, May 23, 2024

The Supreme Court on Thursday preserved a Republican-held South Carolina congressional district, rejecting a lower-court ruling that said the district discriminated against Black voters.

The justices said the Republican-controlled state legislature did nothing wrong during redistricting when it strengthened Rep. Nancy Mace's hold on the coastal district by moving 30,000 Democratic-leaning Black residents of Charleston out of the district.

The state argued that partisan politics, not race, and a population boom in coastal areas explain the congressional map.

A lower court had ordered South Carolina to redraw the district after it found that the state used race as a proxy for partisan affiliation in violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. But that court had put its order on hold and had already allowed the state to use the challenged map in the 2024 elections.

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Joe St. George
8:44 AM, May 09, 2024

When Mace first won election in 2020, she edged Democratic incumbent Rep. Joe Cunningham by 1%, under 5,400 votes. In 2022, following redistricting driven by the 2020 census results, Mace won reelection by 14%. She is among eight Republicans who voted in October to oust Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as House speaker.

The case differed from one in Alabama in which the court ruled last year that Republican lawmakers diluted Black voters' political power under the landmark Voting Rights Act by drawing just one district with a majority Black population. The court's decision led to a new map with a second district where Democratic-leaning Black voters comprise a substantial portion of the electorate.

In South Carolina, Black voters wouldn’t have been as numerous in a redrawn district. But combined with a substantial set of Democratic-leaning white voters, Democrats might have been competitive in the reconfigured district.