U.S. Supreme Court Decision Greenlights Racial Gerrymandering in South Carolina


Today, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a unanimous federal three-judge court ruling that had ordered the redrawing of South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District for discriminating against Black voters. Oral argument in the case, Alexander v. South Carolina State Conference of NAACP, took place in October 2023. 

Following the decision, Annabelle Harless, director of redistricting litigation at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, released the following statement:

“Today’s ruling is a disappointment — and an affront to Black voters who have, for far too long, endured racial discrimination in voting.

"Not only does today’s decision harm Black South Carolinians, but it also makes it more difficult to fight back against racial gerrymandering, which is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. In doing so, this decision allows the cloak of partisan gerrymandering to excuse discrimination against Black voters.  

"We will continue to work tirelessly with our partners on the ground and across the space to fight back against racial discrimination in voting maps.”

Background: In early 2023, a federal district court three-judge panel struck down South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, finding that the state Legislature had set an impermissible racial target for the district and removed thousands of Black voters from the district in order to meet it. The court held that the district was designed to “bleach” the voting strength of the Black community in the Charleston area.  

Campaign Legal Center has been involved in several lawsuits challenging racial gerrymandering in voting maps. In August 2023, Campaign Legal Center joined a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and other voting rights organizations urging the Supreme Court to uphold the lower court’s ruling and avoid weakening the protections against racial gerrymandering enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.