Civil rights

Civil rights groups tire of South Carolina redistribution failures, take legal action


(AP Photo / Jeffrey Collins, file)

By Mary Magana-Ayala

COLUMBIA, SC– Two civil rights groups, the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union, have filed a lawsuit against the state of South Carolina, arguing that the state has unduly delayed the development of new redistribution cards that embody the constitutional principle of one person – one vote.

“Every day without new cards is a day when interested organizations, such as the South Carolina NAACP and its volunteers, as well as candidates, cannot contact and educate the electorate in their districts,” said Brenda Murphy, Acting President of the plaintiff in the case, the South Carolina NAACP.

Further addressing the importance of the issue, Brenda Murphy said: “Every day without new cards is another day when black voters and other voters in the state cannot appeal and be accountable to the next election officials who have many problems that they must answer. to deal with our communities such as the impact of COVID, education and police reform, land ownership, and more. “

The case was heard on behalf of the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP as well as individual voters, who are represented by the ACLU, the ACLU of South Carolina, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education. Fund, Inc., Boroughs Bryant LLC and Arnold & Carry.

According to the ACLU, the issue at stake is the verdict of the state legislature to postpone the redistribution without proposing, reviewing and developing new maps that serve to replace the obsolete and poorly distributed districts of South Carolina at the level of the Congress and State.

In the United States, redistribution only occurs once per decade, and the district design establishes the distribution of political power and representation in each district at each level of government for the next 10 years.

“The Legislature has essentially left town without fulfilling its critical obligation to draw fair new maps… The stakes are too high for lawmakers to treat the public and the process with so little respect,” Sommil Trivedi argued, the lawyer for the ACLU.

The ACLU argues it has every reason to believe the legislature will not review or develop new redistribution maps until December or January, which they say puts the public and the tribunal’s ability into question. determine the legal legitimacy of the cards before the March filing deadline. for the next primary elections in 2022.

In addition, the legislative delay on redistribution is also hurting civil servants running for office, argues the ACLU.

Candidates who wish to run for a position have until March 30, 2022 to formally confirm that they are running for state and federal positions. The ACLU says candidates intending to run and citizens who wish to organize and participate in the political process by voting have the right to know where the new district lines will be drawn.

The lawsuit, written by the ACLU and NAACP, highlights how the state’s Congressional, House, and Senate districts have drastic demographic inequalities, as it reflects 2010 demographics.

Further, the ACLU suggests that until the South Carolina legislature corrects the misallocation in districts across the state, voters will be unable to determine which candidates they will support and cannot decide whether to run or run. to support candidates to come forward.

The ACLU adds that the delay means that voters are also unable not only to inform themselves but also to others about the various candidates running and to prepare to hold candidates accountable during an election period, and they are also unable to connect with others within their districts to promote and defend candidates who reflect like political ideas.

Expressing concern, Leah Aden, deputy director of litigation at the Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc. of the NAACP, insisted: go to court to correct the maps of the Legislature.

“The state’s refusal to tell the public when it will meet again to meet its obligation to redraw the lines and make it difficult, if not impossible, to resolve any legal challenges before the ensuing 2022 primaries is unacceptable. “

According to the ACLU, the South Carolina district maps have been challenged every decade since 1970, and every decade it has taken a long time for the court to hear the cases. The ACLU maintains that despite knowledge of this fact, the legislature has decided to adjourn.

South Carolina ACLU Legal Director Allen Chaney said: “Because there are no fixed timelines for the South Carolina redistribution process, there is a real risk that Important electoral deadlines follow before the cards are drawn and tested against the fair demands of our Constitution. This trial will help ensure that Southern Carolinians have the opportunity to run, organize and vote in elections. in the State House and the US Congress with cards that meet the conditional requirements. ”

The plaintiff, Taiwan Scott, added, “Equal access and electoral representation is essential for black people in South Carolina and the Gullahs in particular to demand and hold the appropriate representative to account. The South Carolina legislature must fairly distribute legislative and legislative constituencies so that we can make our voices heard and ensure that elected officials meet the needs of black communities. “

The trial, NAACP South Carolina Conference c. McMaster was registered with the United States District Court in Columbia, South Carolina.