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redistricting

  • A federal trial to determine whether South Carolina's congressional maps are legal is closing with arguments over whether the state Legislature diluted Black voting power. The NAACP says the General Assembly removed Black voters from the coastal 1st District to make it easier for Republicans to win and dilute African American votes. The General Assembly says it drew maps fairly to deal with 10% population growth concentrated along the coast. A panel of three federal judges will hear closing arguments in the case Tuesday morning in Charleston. A ruling is expected later.
  • A settlement of a redistricting lawsuit has added drawing new South Carolina House maps to the list of things state lawmakers need to do in the final three days of the General Assembly's session this week. The House agreed to redraw maps that include the areas around Orangeburg County, areas around Richland and Kershaw counties and areas around Horry and Dillon counties. The new maps would settle the lawsuit from the ACLU and NAACP.
  • Civil rights groups are accusing South Carolina Republicans of unconstitutionally creating "racially gerrymandered" U.S. House maps to disadvantage Black voters. An amended complaint was filed Thursday in a lawsuit by the South Carolina chapter of the NAACP. The lawsuit says the maps would keep South Carolina's 6th District as a majority-Black district, while "working adeptly to deny the ability of Black voters to elect or even influence elections in any of the other six congressional districts." Redistricting cases are considered by three-judge panels. For this case, that includes Michelle Childs, who is being considered for a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy. Attorneys for leading Republican lawmakers have defended the maps' constitutionality.
  • Civil rights activists worry that a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling could embolden Republicans to take aim at splitting majority-Black districts and ultimately reduce Black voters' influence on Capitol Hill. In Florida, GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis took the unusual step last month of asking the state Supreme Court whether a Democrat's plurality-Black congressional district could be broken into whiter — and more Republican — districts. That type of request might typically face steep hurdles under laws meant to protect representation of marginalized communities. But the ground rules may be shifting after the high court sided with Republicans in Alabama to block efforts to add a second majority-Black district.
  • Gov. Henry McMaster has signed into law a new congressional redistricting plan based on the 2020 census. It’s not drastically different from the plan adopted after the 2010 census, but it was drawn to lock-in the existing advantage Republicans have with six solid GOP districts and one solid Democratic district. It maintains the Sixth Congressional District as a majority-minority district, and it increases potential Republican strength in the coastal First District.
  • A South Carolina representative being drawn into a district with another House member is trying to convince the city of Orangeburg to join a lawsuit over the new redistricting maps. Democratic Rep. Jerry Govan told Orangeburg City Council last week that the House maps signed into law last month unfairly split the city and will lose cause it to lose political power. The plan puts most of Orangeburg's city limits into a district currently represented by Democratic Rep. Justin Bamberg who lives in neighboring Bamberg County. City officials says they will consider joining a federal lawsuit over the state House districts already filed by two civil rights groups.
  • The South Carolina Senate has passed a new map for the state's U.S. House seats that makes minimal changes to the current seven districts. Six of those districts regularly end up sending Republicans to Congress The 26-15 vote on Thursday fell exactly on party lines. It likely shut the door on any significant changes to the districts, which Democrats and civic groups say unfairly amplifies Republican power and dilute minority strength into just one district. The Senate made minor changes to the House plan, so the map heads back to that chamber.
  • A Democratic South Carolina senator says he'll wait to debate his radically different map for U.S. House districts before the full Senate. The decision Wednesday by Sen. Dick Hapootlian allowed the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass a map tweaked a little more than the version already passed by the House. The map would likely keep South Carolina sending six Republicans and one Democrat to the U.S. House.
  • State senators now have another map to consider just when the South Carolina General Assembly appears ready to finish drawing new U.S. House districts. This latest map would make radical changes favorable to Democrats in all seven congressional districts. South Carolina currently sends six Republicans and one Democrat to the U.S. House. This latest map would create two districts with majorities of voters who picked Joe Biden over Donald Trump in 2020, and a third district where Trump won only narrowly. The South Carolina House is expected to vote Wednesday on GOP proposals that would lock in the status quo.
  • South Carolina lawmakers have heard public testimony over a proposal to redraw the state's U.S. House districts that scales back the sweeping changes suggested in an earlier map. The House's suggested map doesn't significantly redraw the boundaries of the state's existing districts and resembles a proposal put forth by a Senate committee last month. Early analysis shows the state would likely continue to elect six Republicans and one Democrat to the U.S. House with those districts. Some critics testified Wednesday that the new proposal splits up Charleston County to make the coastal 1st District less competitive and dilutes Black voting power.