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Supreme Court Is Suspicious Of South Carolina’s Accusation Of Gerrymandering On The Basis Of Race

Civil rights groups sued when Republican Rep. Nancy Mace’s district was changed to eliminate thousands of Black votes.

Conservative judges, who have a 6-3 majority, questioned whether civil rights groups that challenged the district had enough evidence to show legislators were mainly concerned with race when designing the plan. The state intended to help district Republicans.

Black folks vote Democratic; thus, the question is whether Republicans targeted them for race or party.After legalising political gerrymandering in 2019, the justices must rule federal courts cannot consider such claims.

Republicans supported by South Carolina Senate President Thomas Alexander are appealing a January race-related district ruling.

Republicans gained a disputed seat by redrawing borders following the 2020 census.

Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts said the plaintiffs’ “circumstantial evidence” differed from earlier racial gerrymandering cases.

“This would be breaking new ground in our voting rights jurisprudence,” he said, overcoming the state.

Conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett said the plaintiffs had an “exceedingly heavy burden” to establish the state behaved inappropriately since politicians are believed to operate in good faith.

Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch explored race-party separation.

“Here, there’s no evidence the Legislature could have achieved its partisan tilt, which everyone says is permissible in any other way,” he says.

Sam Alito was the most conservative in assessing plaintiffs’ premise, evidence, and lower court judgements.

He said the Supreme Court shouldn’t “rubber-stamp” lower court decisions.

The plaintiffs and all three liberal justices agreed that the Supreme Court should only rectify serious mistakes.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson used precedent to say plaintiffs didn’t need a “smoking gun” to establish race was the state’s principal interest.

Race may be “more predictive of future voting behaviour.” Numbers were limited to the 2020 presidential election, but “good reasons to use race as a proxy for politics” remain.

Republicans had a “clear incentive” to include race because “everybody can tell you that if you want to draw a stable partisan gerrymander, you do not rely on single presidential year election data,” she said.

Joe Cunningham won 2018 for Democrats, but Mace narrowly won 2020. The updated map shows Mace won Rep. James Clyburn’s seat with almost 30,000 Black votes in 2022. Democrats control one of the state’s seven congressional seats.

After lower courts ruled with plaintiffs, the Supreme Court halted the case. The parties want the justices to rule by Jan. 1 whether a 2024 election strategy is required.

A plaintiff victory would make the district more competitive, but a Democrat may lose.

Republican attorneys said in court documents that the Legislature should have presumed good faith by the three-judge panel. They also said Republicans tried to lower Democratic votes to win a GOP majority.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund alleged Republicans improperly considered race when setting borders, diminishing Black votes.

The 14th Amendment guarantees legal equality; thus, lawsuits were brought. However, it alleges racial gerrymandering on a different legal premise than the Voting Rights Act ruling this year that affirmed civil rights organisations’ challenge to Republican-drawn Alabama maps.

Alabama Republicans favoured race-neutral line-drawing, even with one Black-majority district instead of two. Unlike South Carolina, the plaintiffs claimed the Voting Rights Act required racial consideration.

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Written by Anthony Peters