COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Three federal judges ruled Friday that South Carolina’s First Congressional District boundary must be redrawn following claims the current district map – which was recently redrawn and prompted court challenges – is racially gerrymandered.

The First Congressional District, or SC-01, has long elected Republican lawmakers. But a decision to redraw the district come not long after Democrat Joe Cunningham was elected to represent the district in a political upset during the 2018 election.

While he lost the seat to Republican Nancy Mace, the race was very close. That is when the South Carolina House and Senate began to consider a redesign of the congressional boundary which would be in place prior to the November 2022 general election.

Mace won by just over 1 percentage point in 2020, but after the district was redrawn, won by 14 percentage points in November, the Associated Press reported.

Friday’s ruling is connected to a lawsuit filed by the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP last year saying the new maps violated electors’ rights and were motivated by race.

As part of their ruling Friday, the three judges – Mary Geiger Lewis, Toby J. Heytens, and Richard M. Gergel – said they carefully weighed the evidence and found that race was the predominant motivating factor in the General Assembly’s redesign of the SC-01 boundary and that traditional districting principles were subordinated to race.

“The Court finds that to achieve a target of 17% African American population in Congressional District No. 1, Charleston County was racially gerrymandered and over 30,000 African Americans were removed from their home district,” the court said as part of its conclusion.

“State legislators are free to consider a broad array of factors in the design of a legislative district, including partisanship, but they may not use race as a predominant factor and may not use partisanship as a proxy for race,” they said.

The SC General Assembly will need to present the court with a remedial map for consideration by March 21, 2023.

Rep. Nancy Mace provided the following comment to News 2 after the court’s decision was released: “I look forward to continuing to deliver results for the Lowcountry no matter what the lines of SC01 look like. I will always work hard and serve as an independent voice for the Lowcountry.”