Two civil rights groups are suing the state of South Carolina over the redrawing of their House district maps, ABC News 4 reports.
The lawsuit filed by the NAACP and ACLU, claims that the new maps discriminate against Black people attempting to dismantle their voting power and accuses lawmakers of taking too long to approve U.S. House maps.
“This new lawsuit confirms our worst fears: These new maps dilute the voting strength of Black voters and undermine the political power of communities of color by denying us equal participation in the political process,” the ACLU said on Twitter.
“Diminishing the voting strength of communities of color violates the Constitution’s promise of equal protection under the law,” the tweet continued.
Amending an earlier lawsuit from October, it states that the General Assembly was taking too long to pass the maps “preventing potential candidates from researching the new districts and not giving enough time for lawsuits to be considered before the two-week filing period starts March 16.”
“Defendants traded one constitutional violation—malapportionment—for two others: racial gerrymandering and intentional racial discrimination,” court documents read.
The suit requests that a federal judge declare new maps unconstitutional and to delay March filings and June primaries for the 124 available seats until more equitable districts can be drawn. Also, the suit asks the court to establish a Feb. 15 deadline for the U.S. House maps to be completed and they reserve their right to sue again over the 46 South Carolina Senate districts, which don’t come up for election until 2024.
According to the suit, 28 of the 124 House districts were used to either exclude or concentrate Black voters in districts to dilute their collective political power.
Approved by a majority in the South Carolina House and Senate in December, the new maps are seen as racially controversial by some groups and politicians who claim they make less competitive districts.
Each decade, new census data is used to redraw maps for the U.S. House—with the intention of representing shifting demographics and populations around the state. But, critics say this process can be used to split votes along racial lines, to create safe seats for political parties.
In a statement from November, the South Carolina Coalition of Black Communities expressed their concern for the new political maps and their potential results in a November statement.
“Our concern is that state Senate and House districts are being drawn in a manner that minimizes and dilutes the votes of Black citizens,” the statement read.
New census data is deployed to redraw the maps for the U.S. House every ten years to represent changing demographics in the state. But opponents of gerrymandering believe the process is used to split votes, sometimes along racial lines, and to create seats of safety for political parties.
The state legislators plan to finalize its proposal for the U.S. House districts upon returning for their regular session in January.