A federal court has ruled that South Carolina’s congressional elections will proceed under an unconstitutional and discriminatory map, with primary elections scheduled for June 11 and early voting beginning on May 28. The court cited practical considerations such as the upcoming election deadlines and the absence of a decision from the Supreme Court in making this ruling. The case revolves around South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, currently held by Republican Rep. Nancy Mace, and the use of race as a proxy for partisan affiliation in violation of the 14th Amendment.

In the 2020 election, Mace narrowly defeated Democratic incumbent Rep. Joe Cunningham, who had previously flipped the seat in 2018. Following redistricting driven by the 2020 census results, Mace won reelection by a significant margin. Civil rights groups challenged the redrawing of the district, accusing state lawmakers of choosing a map that disadvantaged Black voters in favor of Republicans. Last year, a three-judge panel found that South Carolina had “exiled” 30,000 Democratic-leaning Black voters from the district to safeguard Mace’s seat, a decision that was appealed by the state.

The Supreme Court heard arguments on the case in October but has yet to issue a decision. Both the state and the civil rights groups requested a ruling by January 1 to allow for preparation for the upcoming elections. The American Civil Liberties Union, part of the coalition challenging the district, condemned South Carolina’s failure to rectify the racially gerrymandered map, accusing the legislature of undermining democracy and perpetuating voter suppression. Attorneys for the defendants named in the case did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This case differs from a similar one in Alabama where the Supreme Court ruled that Republican lawmakers had diluted Black voters’ political power, leading to a redrawn map with a second district where Democratic-leaning Black voters are a substantial portion of the electorate. The ruling in South Carolina raises concerns about the impact on Black voters in the upcoming elections and the potential for continued voter suppression. The outcome of the legal battle over the district’s boundaries will have significant implications for the representation and political power of minority communities in South Carolina.

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