SCOTUS Hands Decision in Favor of Republicans in Redistricting Case

The Supreme Court late last month upheld the redrawn district lines of South Carolina’s First Congressional District, overturning a lower court’s ruling that the new district discriminated against blacks.

In a 6-3 decision, the high court determined that the Republican-controlled state legislature did not violate the Voting Rights Act when it moved a predominantly-black Democrat area of Charleston out of the district currently held by Republican Rep. Nancy Mace.

Mace initially won SD-01 in 2020 by a single percentage point, beating incumbent Democrat Rep. Joe Cunningham. However, after the district was withdrawn to remove the roughly 30,000 Charleston blacks, Mace won reelection in 2022 by 14 points.

Civil rights groups and some black voters removed from the district sued the state, accusing the South Carolina legislature of racial gerrymandering.

The lower court ruled that the legislature deliberately moved the black voters to an already heavy Democrat district to make Mace’s District 01 safer for Republicans. It determined that the district lines violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and ordered the legislature to redraw the district.

Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito criticized the lower court for its “misguided approach,” saying the District judges refused to concede that the state legislature acted in good faith while giving the plaintiffs too much credit.

Alito argued that the plaintiffs’ case was weak because they failed to produce an alternative district map, which he said was an “implicit concession” that the plaintiffs were unable to come up with a new map.

Alito called the District Court’s conclusions “erroneous” since it “did not follow this basic logic.”

Writing for the minority, Justice Elana Kagan accused the conservative majority of ignoring the lower court’s decision that the redrawn district was racially gerrymandered.

South Carolina argued in the case that the changes to District 01 were based on partisan politics rather than racial makeup. It contended that the district lines reflected the recent population boom along the coastal areas of South Carolina. The Supreme Court previously held that moving district lines based on the partisan politics of voters was acceptable.

In a statement celebrating the high court’s decision, Rep. Mace said the ruling reaffirmed what South Carolina voters already knew, that the district lines were not based on race.