A panel of federal judges in South Carolina has concluded that the state’s coastal 1st Congressional District was drawn in such a way that it discriminates against Black voters and must be redesigned before the end of March.
The ruling was issued Jan. 6 by three federal judges: Richard Gergel, Mary Geiger Lewis and Toby Heytens. Their decision came less than two months after the federal trial ended in a downtown Charleston courtroom.
“The Court finds that race was the predominant factor motivating the General Assembly’s adoption of Congressional District No. 1,” the judges wrote. “With the movement of over 30,000 African American residents of Charleston County out of Congressional District No. 1 to meet the African American population target of 17%, Plaintiffs’ right to be free from an unlawful racial gerrymander under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment has been violated.”
The redistricting case stemmed from an amended complaint filed earlier this year by the South Carolina chapter of the NAACP.
The suit accused state Republican lawmakers of unconstitutionally redrawing lines in the state’s 1st, 2nd and 5th Congressional Districts to disadvantage Black voters — a violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments.
In their opening statements, the lead attorney for the state chapter of the NAACP argued that the congressional lines drawn by the General Assembly were drawn for political gain and not on the basis of race.
“Partisanship,” said Leah Aden, deputy director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “That cannot be the goal if the rights of minority voters are trampled on to achieve that advantage.”
You can find the ruling at this link.