Civil rights advocates demand protection for Black voters in SC SCOTUS case


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 5, 2023) — The U.S. Supreme Court must uphold precedent and continue to prohibit racial discrimination in redistricting cases when it hears Alexander v. South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP next week, a panel of civil and voting rights attorneys and advocates said in a Thursday media briefing. 

Organizational plaintiff South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, individual Plaintiff Taiwan Scott, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, ACLU, and Southern Coalition for Social Justice spoke at a media briefing Thursday in advance of the Oct. 11 oral arguments in the case. 

A recording of the media briefing is available here.

Statement from Mitchell Brown, Senior Counsel for Voting Rights at Southern Coalition for Social Justice:

“What we’re seeing across the country, and specifically across the South, is legislators alleging they are not discriminating or gerrymandering on the basis of race but on the basis of party. That’s an issue because many times racial discrimination is hidden under partisan motivations and it’s then up to a court to disentangle those motivations.” 

Statement from Antonio L. Ingram II, Assistant Counsel with NAACP Legal Defense Fund:

“We cannot have a multiracial democracy with our current members of Congress elected under maps that are found to be racially discriminatory. This case is about the integrity of our democratic process nationwide.”  

Statement from Brenda Murphy, President of the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, organizational plaintiff:

“I and others are hopeful that the Supreme Court will agree with the lower court in terms of the need for the map to be redrawn. Black voters’ voices need to be heard, the power of the vote needs to be acknowledged.” 

Statement from Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux, Deputy Director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project:

“This case is simple. It involves a straightforward application of the Court’s racial gerrymandering cases, specifically and namely the Court’s 2017 decision in Cooper v. Harris, which said race just cannot be used as a proxy to achieve a partisan goal. You can’t just racially discriminate and use partisanship as an excuse.”

Statement from Taiwan Scott, an individual plaintiff from Hilton Head, S.C. and member of the Gullah Geechee Community:

“Congress dedicated an area to us [the Gullah-Geechee people], but we need help from them to help sustain us. We need that representation. We need to be counted and we need to have our voices heard.”

Background: The U.S. Supreme Court case, Alexander v. SC State Conference of the NAACP  comes after the South Carolina legislature adopted a racially gerrymandered congressional map in 2022 that moved hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians to different congressional districts, lowering the Black populations in all but one district to levels that denied Black voters the equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. A panel of three federal judges ruled that state lawmakers drew South Carolina’s Congressional District 1, anchored in Charleston and coastal South Carolina, with a discriminatory purpose and as an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. The South Carolina legislature appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Wednesday, Oct. 11 and both parties have requested a ruling by January 2024 to allow all parties ample time to implement the court’s decision.  

The brief filed by the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP argued the court must uphold its racial gerrymandering precedent finding that if race is the predominant factor in drawing a district to achieve partisan ends, then the predominant use of race is unconstitutional. 

A “Rally for Fair Voting Rights” will also be held at 9:30 a.m., Oct. 11, the day of oral arguments, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and feature voting and civil rights advocates from South Carolina.