U.S. Supreme Court Will Hear South Carolina Racial Gerrymandering Challenge

WASHINGTON, D.C. On Monday, May 15, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will review a case regarding South Carolina’s congressional map, which was struck down earlier this year for being racially gerrymandered in violation of the U.S. Constitution. 

In today’s order, the Supreme Court indicated that it will accept written briefing and hear oral argument in a lawsuit filed by the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and a voter arguing that the state’s congressional map drawn with 2020 census data is an unconstitutional racial gerrymander that intentionally discriminates against Black voters. 

In January, a federal three-judge panel struck down the current configuration of the state’s 1st Congressional District, which is currently represented by Rep. Nancy Mace (R), finding that it was an unconstitutional racial gerrymander in violation of the 14th Amendment. Republican legislators appealed the panel’s January decision to the Supreme Court and asked it to reverse the decision. The Court will now hear this important case regarding racial gerrymandering in full.

In its January 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.”

Since the plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the South Carolina congressional map under the 14th and 15th Amendments, federal law requires 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. 

Following today’s order, the case will be briefed and the Supreme Court will schedule oral argument for the Court’s next term, which starts in October. 

Read the order here.

Learn more about the case here.