SCOTUS to Hear South Carolina Gerrymandering Case
On Monday, SCOTUS agreed to hear the South Carolina Republican Party's challenge of a lower court ruling that found a congressional district was gerrymandered to exclude black voters. The case will be Alexander v. South Carolina Conference of the NAACP.
- On Monday, SCOTUS agreed to hear the South Carolina Republican Party's challenge of a lower court ruling that found a congressional district was gerrymandered to exclude black voters. The case will be Alexander v. South Carolina Conference of the NAACP.1
- The previous three-judge panel found that a redrawing of South Carolina's 1st Congressional District, an area that includes Charleston County, was a "stark racial gerrymander," ordering the district redrawn and ruling that the state "may not use race as a predominant factor" in districting or "partisanship as a proxy for race."2
- Following the redistricting, which saw 30K Black voters moved out of the district constituting what the court felt was a violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments, incumbent Rep. Nancy Mace won by 14 points after narrowly winning the seat from the Democrats in 2018.3
- In their appeal to SCOTUS, the South Carolina GOP argued that the decision, made by Democrat-appointed judges, was politically motivated and "thinly reasoned." They also claim that the court wrongly assumed bad faith on the part of the legislators and conflated the racial effect of the redistricting with racist intention.4
- The NAACP said that the lower court decision will "protect Black South Carolina voters from this egregious form of discrimination," and is a step towards rectifying the "painful history of racial discrimination" in the state, urging SCOTUS to affirm the ruling.5
- SCOTUS precedent holds that partisan gerrymandering is a state issue, while attempts to discriminate on the basis of race are unconstitutional. The Court is also separately considering a redistricting ruling from Alabama, which found that the state must create a congressional district in which a Black candidate has a good chance at being elected.4
Sources: 1CNN, 2POLITICO, 3The Hill, 4Washington Post, and 5Reuters.
- Democratic narrative, as provided by Vox. Republican legislatures dilute the voting power of African Americans due to their heavy preference for Democratic candidates. As this is part of a shameful legacy of disenfranchisement against minorities in this country, the conservative-leaning SCOTUS has the potential to further entrench this practice and give states almost free license to discriminate under the guise of "partisan gerrymandering." If the Court overturns the lower-court ruling, it would be nearly impossible to challenge racial gerrymandering and be a devastating blow to voting rights nationwide.
- Republican narrative, as provided by Brookings. Gerrymandering is the favorite boogeyman of Democrats when trying to discredit the electoral success of the GOP. The supposed advantages the Republicans have can readily be attributed to the sophisticated redistricting tools the GOP developed and the wide geographic distribution of Republican voters. The hard facts show that no party is getting an unfair advantage, and that redistricting is not an effective political tool. The Democrats are crying victim to a practice they themselves partake in and are asking the legal system to gift them free seats.
- Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Center for American Progress. Both Democrats and Republicans gerrymander massively, making American democracy far from fair. Election laws should change.