Federal Judges Uphold South Carolina's New District Lines

5:05 PM, Mar 9, 2012   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - A panel of federal judges has upheld South Carolina's newly drawn Congressional and state district lines.

The three-judge panel's decision was released Friday afternoon.

A group of plaintiffs had sued the state claiming that the General Assembly redrew the lines to weaken African-Americans voting strength in the state.

Among other changes, the reworking of the federal lines created the new Seventh Congressional District near Myrtle Beach, moved much of the Sixth District from the Pee Dee to near the Georgia border, and took Hilton Head and several counties to its north away from the Second District.

However, the judges felt the plaintiffs in the case offered no evidence that potential "packing" of predominately African-American precincts diluted the group's voting strength.

Further, justices said the claim that the lines violated the 15th Amendment was unsubstantiated. In their view, to violate that Amendment, the plaintiffs would have had to prove that the new lines affected their ability to vote; the justices concluded they did not.

After the decision was made public, Sixth District Congressman James Clyburn released a statement saying he accepts the lines and will work to court new voters.

"I have maintained since the redistricting process began that I would be content with any hand that is dealt me," he said. "I have long-standing relationships throughout the state, and I would feel comfortable campaigning in the Sixth District no matter its composition.

"In light of today's ruling, the Sixth District will shift from the Pee Dee to the Georgia state line.  I look forward to filing for re-election later this month, in this newly configured district, and to meeting with voters who are new to the Sixth District."

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