COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD)- South Carolina House Republicans have agreed to adjust state House districts after being accused of racial gerrymandering by the American Civil Liberties Union.
After the highly contested maps were passed in December, the ACLU announced a civil lawsuit against the state over its “newly drawn and highly gerrymandered state House maps.” The civil rights group filed the suit on behalf of the SC NAACP and an individual voter, Taiwan Scott.
The lawsuit alleged that 29 of the new districts intentionally discriminated against Black communities in order to dilute the African-American vote. According to 2019 census data, Black and African-American individuals make up roughly 26.5% of voters in South Carolina.
The counties that will be readjusted according to the agreement include:
The ACLU called Thursday’s settlement “a victory for voting rights.”
“This agreement is a historic victory for South Carolina voters and the constitutional guarantee of fair maps,” ACLU attorney Somil Trivedi said. “State legislatures hold so many critical rights in their hands, making it all the more vital that the people choose those representatives — not the other way around.”
The two parties were set to go to trial on May 16 if an agreement was not reached. The House GOP will still go to trial over the U.S. Congressional maps this fall.
“Today is a victory for the Black community in South Carolina. Today marks a historical occasion: our political leadership has listened to our grievances and is working to create a more equitable political landscape. We have successfully petitioned our government for increased political access, and now Black communities in Richland/Kershaw, Orangeburg, and Dillon/Horry will have a greater chance of electing their preferred candidates. But this is just a first step to providing equitable voting power for Black South Carolinians. We will continue to work with our elected officials to ensure that all our communities have a voice in our democratic institutions.”South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP President Brenda Murphy
The legislature has until May 12 to pass the redrawn district bill and send it to Gov. McMaster’s desk. If it is signed, the changes will go into effect in 2024.