Voters appeal districts
COLUMBIA -- Six black South Carolina voters took their case to the nation's highest court Monday, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal over the state's new congressional and state House districts.
The high court has not said if it will take the case, which bypassed the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
This month, a three-judge federal panel ruled that South Carolina's U.S. House districts --including the new 7th District along the coast -- and state House districts are fair and do not discriminate against black voters. The suit's resolution cleared the way for the filing period for political offices in South Carolina to open as scheduled last Friday.
The voters -- who live in Florence, Sumter, Georgetown, Berkeley, Darlington and Charleston counties -- had argued the districts drawn by the Republican-dominated Legislature dilute blacks' voting power and were improperly drawn based on race. They sued Gov. Nikki Haley, the Legislature and other state officials, claiming the plan for the state's seven districts "creates a system of voting apartheid in South Carolina that segregates white and black voters into election districts" and packs black voters into one congressional district. The suit implored the judicial panel to throw out the plan, which the Department of Justice said it would not challenge, make lawmakers draw a new one and bar any elections based on them.
The proposed maps for South Carolina and other Southern states require federal approval under the Voting Rights Act because of a history of inequitable treatment of black voters.