Discriminatory electoral division | Supreme Court rejects appeal of South Carolina voting map

Discriminatory electoral division | Supreme Court rejects appeal of South Carolina voting map
Discriminatory electoral division | Supreme Court rejects appeal of South Carolina voting map

(Washington) The United States Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an appeal against an electoral map of the state of South Carolina, accused by civil rights organizations of having been drawn based on racial considerations.

Posted at 2:39 p.m.

Democratic President Joe Biden denounced a decision that “undermines the basic principle that electoral practices should not discriminate on the basis of race.”

The thorny issue could help determine who, Democrats or Republicans, controls the US House of Representatives next year.

The Supreme Court, dominated by conservative justices, ruled six to three that an electoral map drawn up by South Carolina’s Republican-majority legislature did not constitute illegal “gerrymandering.”

“Gerrymandering” is a partisan electoral division, consisting of moving the borders of constituencies according to the interests of the party in power. It is prohibited when it is done on racial grounds.

Several legal battles are underway in the United States over this practice, which can dilute minority votes.

In the South Carolina case, a federal panel of three judges ruled in January 2023 that a redistricting carried out after the 2020 census was illegal because it was based on racial criteria, ordering that it be redrawn before the elections of November 2024.

The Republican majority is accused of having “whitened” a district by placing 30,000 African-Americans in a district already having a black majority.

The vast majority of African-Americans tend to vote Democratic.

The South Carolina legislature filed an appeal against the lower court’s decision, and the case ended up before the Supreme Court.

“Dangerous pattern”

The latter, in an opinion written by ultraconservative Justice Samuel Alito, declared that the first court’s conclusion that the racial criterion was predominant in the redistricting of the map was “clearly erroneous”.

“Redistricting is an inevitably political enterprise,” Mr. Alito said, and “a legislature may pursue partisan goals when it engages in redistricting.”

“Where race and politics are strongly correlated, a map that has been the subject of gerrymandering for partisan purposes can look a lot like a map cut along racial lines,” he continued.

The Court’s five other conservative justices joined Mr. Alito. The three progressives expressed their difference of opinion.

Justice Elena Kagan described the Court’s decision as “bad.”

“And so this “odious” practice of sorting citizens, based on racial generalizations and exploiting racial divisions, will continue,” she lambasted.

The Republicans now have a very narrow majority in the House of Representatives. An increase in the number of black-majority constituencies could tip the scales in the November legislative elections.

The Supreme Court’s decision “threatens the ability of South Carolinians to make their voices heard at the polls,” President Biden said in his press release.

The redistricting maintained by “the Court is part of a dangerous pattern of attempts to gerrymandering racial bias on the part of Republican elected officials to dilute the will of black voters,” he said.



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