Lawsuit To Thwart Gerrymandering Targeting Minority Voters Announced

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and NAACP (alongside others) are suing South Carolina authorities over the redistricting process in the state. As summarized by the ACLU, the new case claims that the state House district map that is on deck “intentionally discriminates against Black communities in the state and denies Black voters equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect candidates of their choice.”

Those behind the case claim that Republican officials who are responsible for the state House district map both packed and cracked Black communities. Packing, in this context, refers to isolating certain voters in as few districts as possible to keep them from exercising their influence over a wider area, while cracking refers to splitting up certain voters across a slew of districts, with the effect of keeping these voters from easily joining together and electing representatives who connect to their interests. On the occasion of the new lawsuit, ACLU attorney Somil Trivedi commented as follows about the new state House map:

‘This is classic gerrymandering. South Carolina lawmakers surgically carved up Black communities in key areas of the state to entrench their own political power. It has got to stop.’

Gerrymandering — meaning the political manipulation of the district line-drawing process — can have serious, real-world consequences when certain communities find themselves less able to be substantively involved in the selection of representatives. As Leah Aden, deputy director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), explained things:

‘The South Carolina Legislature enacted racially gerrymandered and intentionally dilutive state House districts that minimize Black South Carolinian voting power. And the harms are predictable: Black voters will have fewer opportunities to elect candidates of choice or influence elections and thus have representatives who will be responsive to their needs for housing, economic, educational, and public safety opportunities. The challenged discriminatory districts should not stand.’

South Carolina is part of a list of GOP-led states where concerned observers have raised rhetorical alarms about the redistricting process following the most recent census. Other states with similar issues include Texas, Ohio, and Alabama; in others, like Florida, the new maps haven’t been formally selected yet, so it’s not yet clear which route that Republican leaders might take… although, considering past actions from these officials, it doesn’t look promising. In Texas, which provides a particularly egregious example, Republicans in charge opted to give two new U.S. House districts to white majorities, although the reason that the state got those districts at all is population growth that’s mostly attributable to non-white voters.