FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 25, 2014
Charleston, SC. The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit today in federal court seeking an injunction against further use of a malapportioned districting plan for the Jasper County School District in South Carolina.
Members of the School District Board of Trustees are currently elected from nine single-member districts that were drawn in 1997 based upon the 1990 U.S. census. Due to shifts in population, the district's total deviation from ideal size, based on the 2010 census, is 62.36%. This far exceeds the one person, one vote standard of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which requires districts to be of substantially equal population. The courts have held that a deviation greater than 10% is unconstitutional unless it can be justified by a legitimate state interest.
The plaintiffs are Priscilla Fraser, George M. Hood, Louise Rawlings, and Anthony Cannick, all of whom reside in District 7, the most overpopulated of the districts and one which will be up for election in 2014. If the existing plan is used, their voting strength and that of other residents in the district will be substantially diluted.
The South Carolina Legislature has had an adequate opportunity to fix the malapportioned districting plan for the school district, but has failed to do so. The plaintiffs have asked the federal court to implement a remedial plan that complies with one person, one vote so that they and all voters in Jasper County will have an equal vote in the upcoming 2014 election.
The plaintiffs are represented by Laughlin McDonald, director emeritus of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, and Susan Dunn, legal director of the ACLU of South Carolina.
"The Supreme Court has recognized that the right to vote is fundamental because it is protective of all rights. There is no excuse for allowing the votes of residents of the school district to be diluted by the use of an unconstitutional plan," said McDonald.
Dunn noted that the suit was filed immediately after the Legislature adjourned in June "to give the federal court an adequate opportunity to adopt and implement a constitutional plan for the November 2014 election."
The case, Fraser v. Jasper County, South Carolina, School District, was filed in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, Beaufort Division.