WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether South Carolina’s congressional districts need to be redrawn because they discriminate against Black voters.
The justices said Monday they would review a lower-court ruling that found a coastal district running from Charleston to Hilton Head was intentionally redrawn to reduce the number of Democratic-leaning Black voters and to make it more likely Republican candidates would win.
The case probably will be argued in the fall, and decided in the run up to the 2024 elections, when all the seats in the closely divided House of Representatives, now under Republican control, will be on the ballot.
The three-judge court that ruled in favor of civil rights groups that challenged the congressional map said in its opinion in January that the districts violated the federal Voting Rights Act by unfairly diluting the power of Black voters.
The Supreme Court has cut back on the reach of the landmark voting rights law, and is now weighing an Alabama case that could make it still harder to win lawsuits claiming racial discrimination in redistricting.
Republican Rep. Nancy Mace currently represents the 1st District. She narrowly beat Joe Cunningham in 2020 after Cunningham became the first Democrat to flip a U.S. House seat in South Carolina in 30 years.
In the round of redistricting that took place following the 2020 census, Republicans who control the state government redrew the district. Mace won by 14 percentage points in November.
Republicans defending the map have said partisan considerations, the desire to maintain the 6-1 Republican edge in the state’s congressional districts, drove their decision, not race.
Civil rights groups quickly sued, labeling the plan the Legislature adopted “perhaps the worst option of the available maps” for Black voters.