SCOTUS Gives Ruling On South Carolina Case

May 24, 2024

Hey folks, let’s dive into the latest from the Supreme Court. On Thursday, the Court made a big decision that’s shaking up the political landscape in South Carolina. They rejected the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) efforts to redraw the state’s congressional districts in a way that could flip a Republican seat to the Democrats.

Currently, Rep. Nancy Mace holds a moderate seat in South Carolina’s District 1. The NAACP had sued, arguing that the current district map amounts to racial gerrymandering, which they claim violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. However, the Supreme Court, in a six-to-three vote, didn’t see it that way.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority, emphasizing that redistricting is fundamentally a political process entrusted to state legislatures. He pointed out that legislators are always aware of the political implications of the maps they draw. Alito stated that claims of unconstitutional maps drawn for partisan ends are not something federal courts can adjudicate.

Alito clarified that to challenge a map’s constitutionality, plaintiffs must clearly separate race from politics. “A party challenging a map’s constitutionality must disentangle race and politics if it wishes to prove that the legislature was motivated by race as opposed to partisanship,” he wrote.

However, Alito did acknowledge that there could be rare cases where a district’s shape is so bizarre it clearly indicates racial gerrymandering without any other explanation. But in this instance, the Court found that the close correlation between race and partisan preferences made it difficult to prove that the map was drawn with an unconstitutional focus on race.

The majority opinion stressed that when race and political affiliations are closely tied, as they are in District 1, maintaining the Black Voting Age Population (BVAP) at a certain level does not necessarily indicate racial gerrymandering. Alito noted that the plaintiffs failed to provide an alternative map that would achieve the same political objectives while ensuring a greater racial balance.

In a notable cautionary note, the majority warned against using federal courts as tools for political battles that cannot be won in the political arena. This comment seems to echo concerns about ongoing legal challenges faced by former President Donald Trump.

Justice Clarence Thomas largely agreed with Alito but also wrote a concurring opinion suggesting the Court should revisit some of its previous decisions on voting rights. On the other side, Justice Elena Kagan dissented, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson.

The majority opinion written by Alito comes after the media wrote several hit pieces about the Supreme Court Justice.

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