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Judges rule S.C. congressional district racially gerrymandered

Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., holds her dog after the 11th round of voting for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. Federal judges said Friday her district was racially gerrymandered. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., holds her dog after the 11th round of voting for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. Federal judges said Friday her district was racially gerrymandered. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 6 (UPI) -- A federal judge panel ruled Friday that South Carolina's District 1 congressional seat was gerrymandered to exclude African Americans living there and must be redrawn by the end of March.

The seat, currently held by Republican Nancy Mace, saw thousands of Blacks moved out of her district when the district lines were redrawn after the 2020 Census.

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The judges -- Richard Gergel, Mary Geiger Lewis and Toby Heytens -- seem particularly bothered by the 30,000 Black Charleston, S.C., residents who were drawn out of the House district after long being a part of it.

The judges called the exclusion "stark racial gerrymandering" and putting those voters in "exile."

"State legislators are free to consider a broad array of factors in the design of a legislative district, including partisanship, but they may not use race as a predominant factor and may not use partisanship as a proxy for race," the judges said.

South Carolina Senate Attorney John Gore had argued that the map complied with traditional redistricting principles by preserving the district cores and repairing county splits.

Because of the changing demographic, a Democrat won the district in 2018 before Mace won the district back for Republicans by 1% in 2000. She won handily with the redrawn map by 14% in 2022.

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Mace worked on the campaign of former President Donald Trump in 2016 before becoming the first woman to represent South Carolina in Congress with her win in 2000. She fell out of favor with Trump after criticizing him for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, but beat a Trump-backed challenger in the Republican primary last spring.

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