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Stories about South Carolina

Roundup of noteworthy court challenges involving redistricting (Oct. 19)

Here’s a summary of recent court challenges involving redistricting.

Former Republican elected officials file lawsuit challenging Oregon’s congressional map

On Oct. 11, four former Oregon elected officials—former Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno (R), former Oregon House Republican leader Gary Wilhelms (R), former Mayor of The Dalles James Wilcox, and former Oregon House Speaker Larry Campbell (R)—filed a lawsuit with the Oregon Supreme Court challenging the validity of the state’s enacted congressional map. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs said the map was “an unconstitutional partisan gerrymandered redistricting map, as the Democrats drew the map with impermissible partisan intent to favor the Democratic Party, and [the map] will have impermissible partisan effects.” The plaintiffs requested the court declare the congressional map invalid and draw a different congressional map.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed the new congressional map into law on Sept. 27. It was approved by the Oregon House of Representatives 33-16 and approved by the Oregon State Senate 18-6.

ACLU, NAACP file lawsuit in federal court regarding South Carolina redistricting timeline

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the South Carolina chapter of the NAACP filed a lawsuit in federal court on Oct. 12 against the South Carolina legislature asking the court to set a deadline for legislators to return to session. South Carolina Senate President Harvey Peeler (R) canceled a special Senate session originally scheduled to begin Oct. 12 and indicated that lawmakers may not reconvene to address redistricting until December or January.

The ACLU and NAACP said the delay would prevent any potential lawsuits from being resolved before the new districts take effect. Leah Aden, deputy director of litigation at the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said “In every redistricting cycle for the last 50 years — since Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act — voters and others have been compelled to go to court to fix the legislature’s maps…The state’s refusal to tell the public when it will reconvene to take up its obligation to redraw the lines and make it difficult, if not impossible, to resolve any court challenge before the consequential 2022 primaries is unacceptable.”

Three-judge panel named for federal lawsuit asking Virginia to hold legislative elections in both 2021 and 2022

A three-judge panel was selected in a federal lawsuit filed by former state Democratic Party Chairman Paul Goldman that argues that the state’s November 2021 legislative elections with districts drawn after the 2010 census violates the state’s constitution and the Equal Protection Clause. Goldman filed the suit in July.

Goldman argued that Virginia should also hold legislative elections in November 2022 after the state completes redistricting since urban areas have seen increased population growth relative to other parts of the state. Goldman stated that votes in the areas where the population has risen more rapidly are less valuable than those in other parts of the state if the 2010 maps are used for the entire two-year cycle.

U.S. District Judge David Novak ruled the case could move forward and appointed himself, Fourth Circuit Judge Stephanie Thacker, and U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson to hear the case. Novak was appointed to the court by President Donald Trump (R), Thacker was appointed by President Barack Obama (D), and Jackson was appointed by President Bill Clinton (D).

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Redistricting timeline updates: New York, North Dakota, and South Carolina continue to hold public meetings

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting timeline updates from New York, North Dakota, and South Carolina.

New York: The New York Independent Redistricting Commission announced a second round of public hearings on map proposals to be held between Oct. 20 and Nov. 23, 2021. The first deadline for the commission to submit map proposals to the legislature for approval is Jan. 1, 2022, and the second deadline is Jan. 15, 2022.

North Dakota: The North Dakota Legislative Redistricting Committee continues to hold meetings, including a meeting for public input on the partial proposed redistricting maps on September 22. Additional meetings are scheduled for September 28 and 29 at the State Capitol Building in Bismarck.

South Carolina: House Majority Leader Gary Simrill (R) announced on September 22 that the South Carolina House will return in December to approve new district maps. The House Redistricting Ad Hoc Committee continues to hold public meetings through October 4, 2021.



Recent state court actions suspend state-level universal school mask requirement bans in Florida and Tennessee, uphold a ban in South Carolina

As schools have begun reopening for the 2021-2022 academic year, several states have enacted policies on mask requirements in schools. As of Sept. 9, four states banned school mask requirements, seventeen states required masks in schools, and twenty-nine states left school mask decisions up to local authorities.

Recent legal actions have affected these policies in Florida, Tennessee, and South Carolina. In Florida, Second Circuit Court Judge John Cooper ruled on Sept. 8 that the state Department of Education could not enforce Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) order prohibiting mask requirements without an opt-out option for parents in public schools. Cooper had ruled against DeSantis’ order on Aug. 27, but the ruling had not gone into effect as DeSantis appealed the decision. Following a Sept. 8 hearing on the status of the order pending appeal, Cooper said the government did not present a compelling case for blocking his order. The ban on enforcement will remain in effect until the First District Court of Appeals hears DeSantis’ appeal.

In Tennessee, United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee Judge Sheryl H. Lipman ruled on Sept. 3 in favor of two students who sued Gov. Bill Lee (R) after he issued an order requiring schools to allow students to opt-out of school mask mandates. Lipman ruled Lee’s order violated the students’ rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In South Carolina, the state Supreme Court rejected the city of Columbia’s challenge to the state’s school mask requirement ban. The court found that the mask requirement ban, which was established in an amendment to the state’s budget, was related to budgetary concerns and therefore did not violate a South Carolina rule requiring state laws address a single primary subject.

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Nancy Mace defeats incumbent Joe Cunningham in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District

Nancy Mace (R) defeated Rep. Joe Cunningham (D) in the general election for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. 

Cunningham was first elected in 2018 after defeating Katie Arrington (R) 51% to 49%. Republicans had represented the 1st District from 1981-2019.

Mace worked in public relations, in marketing, and as a coalitions director on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. She has served in the South Carolina House of Representatives since 2018. Trump endorsed Mace.

This seat was one of 30 that Democrats were defending in districts Trump carried in 2016. He defeated Hillary Clinton (D) 54% to 40% in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District.

Heading into the election, Democrats had a 232-197 majority in the House. Republicans needed to win a net 21 seats to win control of the chamber.



Graham (R) defeats Harrison (D) in S.C. Senate race 

Incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) defeated Jaime Harrison (D) in the U.S. Senate election in South Carolina. Graham was first elected in 2002.

Harrison raised the most money out of all the Senate candidates in the 2020 cycle at $109 million. Graham was fourth with $74 million.

Thirty-five of 100 Senate seats are up for election. Republicans have a 53-47 majority. Of the 35 seats up for grabs in the 2020 U.S. Senate race, 23 are held by Republicans and 12 by Democrats, giving Republicans greater partisan risk this year. Democrats need to win a net four seats to win an outright majority in the chamber.

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President Trump announces judicial nominee

On October 1, President Donald Trump (R) announced the nomination of Joseph Dawson to the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, which is an Article III federal judicial position. Article III judges are appointed by the president, confirmed by the Senate, and serve for life.

Since assuming office in January 2017, Trump has nominated 271 individuals to federal judgeships, 218 of whom have been confirmed. The president nominated 69 judicial nominees in 2017, 92 in 2018, and 77 in 2019.

Since January 2017, the Senate has confirmed 218 of Trump’s judicial nominees—161 district court judges, 53 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices.

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South Carolina State Rep. Clemmons resigns from legislature

A little over a month after advancing from the Republican primary for his seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives, Alan Clemmons resigned from the state legislature. Clemmons had represented District 107 in the chamber since 2002. He submitted his letter of resignation on July 17, effective at noon that day.
Clemmons, who defeated Case Brittain with 58.5% of the vote in the June 9 Republican primary, said that he was stepping down in order to meet his obligations outside the legislature. Clemmons said in a statement, “These past 18 years have truly been an honor but have also weighed heavily on my family and my business. I fully believed that I could effectively serve my constituents for one more term, but it has become increasingly clear in the last few weeks that my time needs to be spent with my family and at my law practice.” He also formally withdrew his candidacy from the ballot.
The Charlotte Observer quoted Election Commission member Chris Whitmire as stating that there will not be a special election for the seat given the vacancy’s proximity to the general election. State elections officials plan to reopen candidate filing for the November election for both major parties for one week, since no Democratic challengers previously filed in the district. South Carolina has a Republican state government trifecta, and the Republican Party has held a majority in the state house since 1994.


Voters decide state-level races in Kentucky, New York, South Carolina

On June 23, 2020, Kentucky and New York held primaries for state-level offices, and South Carolina held state legislative primary runoff elections. Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3, 2020.

In Kentucky, 19 state Senate seats and all 100 state House seats were on the ballot, along with one state supreme court seat and one state intermediate appellate court seat. 104 incumbents filed for re-election.

A special general election was held in District 26 of the Kentucky State Senate. The seat became vacant when Ernie Harris (R) retired from the legislature on April 15, 2020.

In New York, 63 state Senate seats and all 150 state Assembly seats were on the ballot, and 179 incumbents filed for re-election.

State legislative special elections in New York were scheduled to take place in one state Senate district and three state Assembly districts. On April 24, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo canceled the special elections. Those seats will remain vacant until the general election on November 3.

South Carolina held primary runoffs for races in which a candidate did not receive a majority of votes in the primary election, which took place on June 9. Eleven races were on the primary runoff ballot, including eight state House seats and three state Senate seats.

Kentucky and New York’s statewide primaries were the 24th and 25th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. Virginia also held a statewide primary for congressional offices. The next statewide primaries are on June 30, 2020, in Colorado, Utah, and Oklahoma.

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Primary runoff in North Carolina is June 23

The statewide primary runoff for North Carolina is on June 23, 2020. The primary was held March 3, 2020, and candidates needed more than 30% of the vote to advance to the general election. The primary runoff was originally scheduled for May 12, 2020, but was postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic. The filing deadline to run passed on December 20, 2019.

Candidates are running in a Republican primary runoff for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District. Lynda Bennett (R) and Madison Cawthorn (R) are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3, 2020. Bennett received 22.7% of the Republican primary vote, and Cawthorn received 20.4%. No other North Carolina congressional seat advanced to a primary runoff.

South Carolina also scheduled its primary runoff election for June 23, but no congressional races advanced to a primary runoff.

Entering the 2020 election, North Carolina’s U.S. House delegation consists of three Democrats, nine Republicans, and one vacancy. The U.S. House has 233 Democrats, 197 Republicans, one Libertarian, and four vacancies. All 435 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats.

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