Supreme Court Sides with Republicans in Fight Over Race-Based Voting Map

Supreme Court Sides with Republicans in Fight Over Race-Based Voting Map

The US Supreme Court on Thursday made it more difficult to prove racial discrimination on electoral maps in a major ruling who backs South Carolina Republicans who expelled 30,000 black residents when they redrawn a congressional district.

The 6-3 decision, with conservative justices in the majority and liberal justices dissenting, overturned a lower court's ruling. that the map had violated the rights of black voters under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which guarantees equal protection before the law. Conservative Justice Samuel Alito wrote the decision.

The liberal justices expressed alarm that the decision makes it more difficult for legal challengers – who in this case included the civil rights group NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union and black voters – demonstrate that an electoral map unconstitutionally discriminates on the basis of race.

“What a message to send to state legislators and cartographers” who often have incentives to use race to achieve partisan ends or suppress the electoral influence of racial minorities, Justice Elena Kagan wrote in a dissent joined by the other two liberals. “Go ahead, this court says to the states today.”

President Joe Biden, a Democrat, said the ruling “undermines the basic principle that electoral practices should not discriminate on the basis of race.”

“This decision threatens the ability of South Carolinians to make their voices heard at the polls, and the redistricting plan that the court confirmed is part of a dangerous pattern of racial gerrymandering efforts by Republican elected officials to dilute the will of black voters,” Biden added.

Gerrymandering involves manipulating the geographic boundaries of electoral districts to marginalize a certain group of voters and increase the influence of others. In this case, the Republican-controlled state legislature was accused of racial gerrymandering to reduce the influence of black voters.

The fight centered on the boundaries drawn in 2022 by the legislature for one of South Carolina's seven U.S. House districts. The new map increased the district's share of white voters while reducing its share of black voters, which the lower court called “whitewashing.”

Black voters tend to support Democratic candidates.
Alito wrote that there was “no direct evidence” that race predominated in the district's design and that “The circumstantial evidence falls far short of demonstrating that race, not partisan preferences, drove the districting process.”

The Supreme Court sided with South Carolina Republicans, who had argued that the district, which includes parts of Charleston along the Atlantic Coast, was chosen for a partisan advantage. In 2019, the Supreme Court decided that map-drawing for partisan gain was not reviewable by federal courts, unlike redistricting motivated primarily by race, which remains illegal.