Federal Courts Hand Republicans 2 Big Wins in a Row

Courts in Florida and South Carolina have each delivered wins to Republican legislatures in congressional mapping cases that will impact the 2024 elections.

In one instance, a federal three-judge panel in South Carolina ruled in favor of Republican lawmakers, allowing their congressional map to stand for this year's elections while the U.S. Supreme Court hears claims of racial gerrymandering, as reported by The Hill.

This ruling brings good news for South Carolina Representative Nancy Mace, who seeks re-election to her First Congressional District seat.

The panel concurred with state lawmakers that halting the map now would pose issues for the upcoming elections. They determined that the map can remain for this year's election pending the map's legality being adjudicated.

"Having found that Congressional District No. 1 constitutes an unconstitutional racial gerrymander, the Court fully recognizes that 'it would be the unusual case in which a court would be justified in not taking appropriate action to insure that no further elections are conducted under an invalid plan,'" the judges stated in their five-page ruling.

"However, 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 added.

This same panel had previously found that Republicans unlawfully moved 30,000 black voters to a different district, alleging that the map plan violates the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

Nevertheless, lawmakers argued that it's too late to delay the map due to the proximity of the election, stating, "It is simply too late now to seek such a change in the panel's orders or to rush through a remedial proceeding for 2024."

Opponents of the map disagreed, asserting, "There is still time to draft and enact a remedial plan for the 2024 congressional elections, and Defendants' misleading and unproven assertions about election imminence and voter confusion fall well short of meeting their 'heavy burden' to justify a stay," according to the plaintiffs' attorneys.

In Florida, Republicans secured another legal victory where judges sided with them over a congressional map dating back to 2022.

Florida judges rejected activists' claims that the state's map discriminated against black voters, Politico reported.

The three-panel judge in Florida unanimously ruled that activists failed to demonstrate the map's discriminatory nature against black voters.

The panel noted that there was significant political opposition to the map when the DeSantis administration proposed it, but the political process ultimately approved the plan.

"Hence, whatever might be said about the Legislature's decision to abandon efforts to preserve a Black-performing district in North Florida, it did not constitute ratification of racial animus in violation of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments," the judges emphasized.

They continued, stating, "a public and collective decision-making body, like the Florida Legislature, is accountable only for its own unconstitutional actions and motivations. The unlawful motivations of others — whether constituents, the Governor, or even a single member of the body itself — do not become those of the decision-making body as a whole."

Even if an appeal were filed for the three-judge panel's decision, it would not affect the 2024 election in time.

The legal battle against the state's map will proceed in the courts as activists continue their efforts to challenge the map. One case is already before the state's supreme court.

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