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Supreme Court Rules for the Republicans in South Carolina Map Case

In more Supreme Court news, yesterday the Court ruled in favor of South Carolina in a case about taking race into account when drawing district maps. The Court has held that political gerrymanders are fine but racial ones are not. In the South, however, nearly all Black voters are Democrats, so moving them in or out of a district could be for either racial reasons (illegal) or political reasons (legal). So, when nearly all the movees are both Black and Democrats, how can anyone tell if a gerrymander is racial or political?

The case at hand involves the district of Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC). The legislature drew a map that removed thousands of Black voters from the district, SC-01. With these voters, the district might have been competitive. Without them, it is not. Civil rights groups sued claiming it was an illegal racial gerrymander. The state claimed it was a legal political gerrymander. The Court sided with the state.

The decision is bigger than this one case. It sends a message to state legislatures throughout the South that they are free to move blocs of Black voters into and out of districts at will as long as they claim it is a political gerrymander. In his majority decision, everyone's favorite justice, Sam Alito, made clear that legislators, having taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, deserve the benefit of the doubt. That means that unless they are so foolish as to go on Fox and brag about how their gerrymander was racial in nature, there's virtually no way to overturn such shenanigans (and maybe not even then). No doubt many state legislators will keep this in mind going forward. (V)

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