Civil rights

2 Civil Rights Groups Sue South Carolina Over Newly Drawn State House Districts | National and Global News


COLUMBIA – Two civil rights groups are suing South Carolina, claiming new State House cards discriminate against blacks by watering down their voting power and again claiming lawmakers are taking too long to approve the United States House cards.

The groups amended an October lawsuit that found the General Assembly taking too long to adopt the maps, preventing potential candidates from researching the new districts and not giving enough time for the lawsuits to be considered before the start of the process. the two-week filing period on March 16.

“The defendants traded one constitutional violation – a misallocation – for two others: racial gerrymandering and intentional racial discrimination,” court documents filed Thursday by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People with the assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The trial was anticipated. South Carolina’s maps have been challenged in court, sometimes successfully, for the past 50 years.

The lawsuit asks a federal judge to find that the new House districts were adopted by the General Assembly and promulgated by the governor earlier this month to be unconstitutional and, if necessary, to delay March filings and primaries. June for the 124 seats until more just districts can be drawn. He is also asking the court to set a deadline of February 15 for the United States House cards to be completed.

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The groups said they reserve the right to later sue South Carolina’s 46 Senate districts, which will not stand for election until 2024.

The lawsuit cites 28 of the House’s 124 districts where race has been used to exclude or concentrate black voters in the districts in order to dilute their overall political power.

There are lines that divide Anderson into four districts “like a broken mirror” to prevent black people from having enough clout to influence the outcome in one of the districts, according to the lawsuit.

There’s the rabbit ear that has spread to Chester to place black city voters in a district in Fairfield County that is already overwhelmingly in the minority instead of surrounding areas, the NAACP said.

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The lawsuit also cites districts of Sumter where it is said that black voters were kicked out of Republican Ways and Means President Murrell Smith’s district, as well as areas of Richland County; Orangeburg County; the counties of Florence and Williamsburg; and in Dillion and Horry counties.

Leaders in the Republican-dominated state legislature stressed that they made no significant changes to the drawn districts after the 2010 US census. These maps were approved by both judges and under federal voting rights law – a requirement that is unnecessary this time around because it was rejected eight years ago by the United States. Supreme Court.

They also said the maps kept more districts where minorities were the majority of voters than the plans of the NAACP and other groups.

The NAACP said its plan called for more districts where black voters made up 40 to 50 percent of the population and could influence more elections.

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House cards have also been heavily criticized by groups like the South Carolina League of Women Voters, which said the number of general election races where the margin of victory is expected to be less than 5 percentage points has been reduced by half to just eight seats – or only 6. percent of the house.

The group ran a computer program that generated nearly 12 billion possible house plans and found that just over 400 had more bias than the one suggested by the chamber.

The cards for the House of the United States are still unresolved. Both chambers have their own proposals. The State Senate idea kept the districts similar to the 2010 map, but made the 1st District, which is the only thing approaching a competitive, more Republican district.

The house had a more drastic change that would have kept the Charleston area more whole. but backed off on the proposal ahead of a public meeting scheduled for next Wednesday.

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South Carolina added nearly 500,000 people in the 2020 US Census, but that growth was unbalanced both geographically towards the coast and the suburb of Charlotte, South Carolina, and racially, as the number of people who moved are identified only as African American fell over 10,000 people.