SC must redraw House district lines in lawsuit settlement
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina lawmakers have about a week to adjust state House district lines as part of a settlement in a voting rights lawsuit.
The American Civil Liberties Union announced the settlement Thursday, saying it requires lawmakers to redraw districts “in some of the most historically significant areas of the state for Black voters by passing new maps this session.”
“Today is a victory for the Black community in South Carolina. Today marks a historical occasion: our political leadership has listened to our grievances and is working to create a more equitable political landscape,” South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP President Brenda Murphy said. “We have successfully petitioned our government for increased political access, and now Black communities in Richland/Kershaw, Orangeburg, and Dillon/Horry will have a greater chance of electing their preferred candidates. But this is just a first step to providing equitable voting power for Black South Carolinians. We will continue to work with our elected officials to ensure that all our communities have a voice in our democratic institutions.”
Under the agreement, the state Senate must amend the map “as soon as practical” and it must be signed by Gov. Henry McMaster by May 17.
South Carolina House Speaker Jay Lucas’s office released a statement from Mark Moore, a partner at Nexsen Pruet Law Firm, who represented the House in the case:
Certainty in our voting process is one of the greatest virtues we have in South Carolina — and trust in that process is of crucial importance to our people. With this settlement, we will end costly litigation with a decision that is reasonable for voters and allows voters to have confidence in the electoral process.
The groups were poised to go to trial on May 16 if an agreement had not been reached. They are still headed to trial over the U.S. congressional map this fall.
“This agreement is a historic victory for South Carolina voters and the constitutional guarantee of fair maps,” American Civil Liberties Union attorney Somil Trivedi. “State legislatures hold so many critical rights in their hands, making it all the more vital that the people choose those representatives — not the other way around.”
The case was brought on behalf of the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and an individual voter, Taiwan Scott.
The lawsuit alleged racial gerrymandering and intentional discrimination in 29 districts aimed at diluting the voting power of Black voters, according to a release from the ACLU.
The case was filed in U.S. District Court in Columbia.
The SCNAACP and Scott are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. (LDF), the ACLU of South Carolina, Boroughs Bryant LLC, Arnold & Porter, and the General Counsel’s Office of the NAACP.
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