In December 2021, the SC Legislature adopted a new electoral map. This process, called redistricting, is done every 10 years following the US Census. While it’s normal to see some changes, this map made some big changes several districts. After seeing the newly drawn map, ACLU SC joined with its partners to file suit on the grounds that the newly drawn map was racially gerrymandered.
During an eight-day trial in the fall of 2022, plaintiffs highlighted how the South Carolina Legislature engineered its new map to cut through Black communities to suppress Black voting power — and demonstrated how lawmakers hid behind arbitrary justifications to achieve their discriminatory actions.
In so doing, a unanimous panel acknowledged the principle that “[s]tate legislators are free to consider a broad array of factors in the design of a legislative district, including partisanship, but they may not use race as a predominant factor and may not use partisanship as a proxy for race,” as they did in designing aspects of South Carolina’s congressional map.
Black voters and their allies, as well as experts in demography, political science, redistricting, and mathematics described the harm that the current congressional map has on Black voters’ compared to race-neutral alternative map options, lending further support to the strong evidence of unconstitutional line-drawing by the state. Indeed, the court found that aspects of South Carolina’s congressional map had “bleached” Black voters out of a district and made a “mockery” of traditional districting principles.
In January 2023, the federal court ruled that the district is a racial gerrymander and must be redrawn. The state has until March 31, 2023 to comply with the order.