The Supreme Court will hear a case Wednesday that could impact the 2024 congressional race in Republican South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace’s district.
A three-judge panel sided in January with plaintiffs who challenged South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District map, including the NAACP and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), finding that it had been racially gerrymandered. In their appeal to the Supreme Court, state lawmakers argue that the lower court failed to presume the South Carolina Legislature acted in “good faith,” writing that their adoption of the maps was motivated by politics, not race.
“[W]hereas race is highly correlated with politics, election data is perfectly correlated with politics,” they wrote in court filings. “The panel never tried to explain why the General Assembly would use race as a proxy for politics when it could (and did) use election data directly for politics.”
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The new map moved close to 30,000 black voters in Charleston County out of the 1st Congressional District and into the 6th Congressional District, according to court documents. The district had flipped blue in 2018 before Mace won it back by just over one point in 2020. After the map was redrawn, Mace won the district by nearly 14 points in 2022.
The Supreme Court recently struck down Alabama’s Republican-drawn congressional map under the Voting Rights Act in a 5-4 June decision, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh siding with the three liberal justices. However, the challenge to South Carolina’s map was made under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
An amicus brief filed by Mace and five other Republican South Carolina representatives asked the Supreme Court to reverse the lower court decision.
“The South Carolina Legislature has complied with traditional redistricting principles, drew a map that preserves the core of previously existing districts, and followed this Court’s prior precedent,” they argued.
Other candidates are speaking out ahead of oral arguments. Mac Deford, a Democratic challenger to Mace for the 2024 race, has said it’s “disturbing” that she will not denounce the map.
“That’s where they cut the 30,000 African American voters out, essentially silencing their voices and our democratic process,” Deford told Live 5 WCSC in September. “It’s something that Nancy Mace has benefited from. She benefited from it heavily last year. I think it’s equally as disturbing that she’s not denouncing it.”
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Another Democratic challenger seeking Mace’s seat, Michael B. Moore, told Reuters Friday that blocking the district map would be “the fair thing to do.”
“We would love to have those voters back,” Moore said. “It’s the fair thing to do if federal courts have acknowledged that those voters were unconstitutionally disenfranchised.”
Thirty historians filed a brief in August arguing the decision must be “viewed in the context of South Carolina’s long history of racial discrimination in politics.” They argue that when any party with primarily white support is challenged by a party “disproportionately” backed by black voters, racial gerrymandering has been used to maintain political control. “Neither major political party is above reproach,” they wrote.
Mace did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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