U.S. Supreme Court Schedules Oral Argument in South Carolina Racial Gerrymandering Case

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, July 14, the U.S. Supreme Court scheduled oral argument in Alexander v. South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP for October 11, 2023. 

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and a voter. It alleges that the state’s congressional map is intentionally racially gerrymandered in violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments.

In January, a federal three-judge panel struck down the current configuration of the state’s 1st Congressional District, represented by Rep. Nancy Mace (R), finding that it was an unconstitutional racial gerrymander in violation of the 14th Amendment. In its opinion, the three-judge panel found that creating South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District would have been “effectively impossible without the gerrymandering of the African American population of Charleston County” and that the “movement of over 30,000 African Americans in a single county from Congressional District No. 1 to Congressional District No. 6 created a stark racial gerrymander of Charleston County.”

Republican legislators then appealed the panel’s January decision to the Supreme Court and asked it to reverse the decision. 

Since the plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the South Carolina congressional map under the 14th and 15th Amendments, federal law required a three-judge panel to hear the claims instead of a single district court judge. Any decision from a three-judge panel is then directly appealable to the Supreme Court, which must accept the appeal and rule on the merits of the case. In May, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would review the case on its full merits docket next term, with full briefing and oral argument.

Between now and October’s oral argument, the appeal will be briefed by both sides and “friends of the court” will file amicus briefs in support of both the anti-voting petitioners and the pro-voting respondents. Already, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) has filed an amicus brief in support of the Republican petitioners. 

Read the U.S. Supreme Court calendar here.

Learn more about the case here.