South Carolina to use ‘unconstitutional’ congressional map after Supreme Court silence

South Carolina will use a congressional map a federal court ruled was “unconstitutional” in this year’s election, following uncertainty around the timing of the Supreme Court’s review of a district that a lower court deemed was racially gerrymandered.

Republican lawmakers shuffled thousands of Black voters out of the state’s 1st District, represented by GOP Rep. Nancy Mace, to make the Charleston-area district more reliably red. The state NAACP sued, arguing that the legislature’s action was unconstitutionally discriminatory.

The Supreme Court heard the case — Alexander v. South Carolina Conference of the NAACP — in October, which tests the legal limits of partisan gerrymandering when it intersects with race, POLITICO previously reported. The conservative majority seemed likely to side with the South Carolina Republican lawmakers and allow the map to stand.

The same panel of lower court judges that initially found it unconstitutional said in an order on Thursday that the state would use the map for this year’s election, ahead of the congressional primaries on June 11. The deadline to send military and overseas absentee ballots is April 27.

As a result, it is “plainly impractical” for the court to wait on a higher judicial decision, the judges wrote in the order.

“With the primary election procedures rapidly approaching, the appeal before the Supreme Court still pending, and no remedial plan in place, the ideal must bend to the practical,” they wrote.

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