COLUMBIA — Six black South Carolina voters on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal over the state’s new congressional and state House districts.
The court has not said whether it will take the case, which bypassed the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Earlier this month, a three-judge federal panel ruled that the state’s U.S. House districts – including its new 7th Congressional District along the coast – and state House districts do not discriminate against black voters. The suit’s resolution cleared the way for the filing period for political offices in South Carolina to open as scheduled last Friday.
The voters, who live in Florence, Sumter, Georgetown, Berkeley, Darlington and Charleston counties, had argued the districts drawn by the Republican-dominated state Legislature diluted blacks’ voting power and were improperly drawn based on race. They sued Gov. Nikki Haley, the Legislature and other state officials, claiming that the plan “creates a system of voting apartheid in South Carolina that segregates white and black voters into election districts” and packs black voters into one congressional district.
The suit implored the judicial panel to throw out the plan, which the Department of Justice had already said it would not challenge, make lawmakers draw a new one and bar any elections based on them.
Redistricting is a once-a-decade process to make sure political district lines reflect population changes revealed by the U.S. Census. South Carolina is picking up a seventh U.S. House seat. That new district was added to the state’s northeastern corner on the coast.
The proposed maps for South Carolina and other Southern states require federal approval under the Voting Rights Act because of a history of inequitable treatment of black voters.