A federal court said South Carolina needed to redraw its Congressional District 1 maps. A panel of three judges decided the boundaries in the Charleston area discriminate against Black voters.
The Post and Courier said Richard Gergel, Mary Geiger Lewis, and Toby Heytens requested the General Assembly redraw the map by March 31.
“The Court finds that race was the predominant factor motivating the General Assembly’s adoption of Congressional District No. 1,” the judges concluded. The Associated Press confirmed that South Carolina will hold no elections until they produce a new 1st District map.
The judges noted how the new post-2020 Census district lines moved more than 30,000 Black Charleston County residents out of a U.S. House District. They described the separation of Black voters as an “exile” and said the map shows “stark racial gerrymander of Charleston County and the City of Charleston.”
The AP added that Republicans dominated November’s midterm elections because of legislation’s drawing of the lines after the 2020 U.S. Census.
As a result, Republican Rep. Nancy Mace, who represents the 1st District, beat Joe Cunningham. That was the state’s first Democrat to flip a U.S. House seat in 30 years.
This case began in February 2022 after the South Carolina chapter of the NAACP filed a lawsuit claiming that state Republican lawmakers violated the fourth and 15th Amendments by unconstitutionally redrawing lines in the state’s 1st, 2nd, and 5th congressional districts to exclude Black voters.
In conclusion, the judges disregarded the 2nd and 5th districts but agreed that the map the Republicans initially drew in the Statehouse does violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.
South Carolina House Speaker Murrell Smith said that he plans to appeal the decision, stating that the map constructed by the Red party is fair.
“I maintain that the House drew maps without racial bias and in the best interest of all the people of this state,” he said in a statement.