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A trial to determine whether South Carolina’s congressional maps are legal closes Tuesday with arguments over whether the state Legislature diluted Black voting power by remaking the boundaries of the only U.S. House district Democrats have flipped in more than 30 years.

The trial also marks the first time the South Carolina maps have been legally scrutinized since the U.S. Supreme Court removed part of a 1965 law that required the state to get federal approval to protect against discriminatory redistricting proposals.

A panel of three federal judges will hear closing arguments in the case in Charleston. A ruling is expected later.

The Republican-dominated General Assembly redrew the maps early this year based on the 2020 U.S. census, and they were used in this month’s midterm elections.

According to a lawsuit filed by the NAACP, the new boundaries unconstitutionally split Black voters in the state’s 1st, 2nd and 5th Districts and packed them all into the 6th District, which already had a majority of African American voters.

The civil rights group has asserted during months of arguments that the General Assembly’s actions not only diluted Black voting strength, but also strengthened the 6-to-1 advantage Republicans have in the state’s U.S. House delegation. The last time a Democrat flipped a U.S. House seat was in 2018. Before that Democrats hadn’t won a seat from Republican control since 1986.

The new congressional districts “render Black voters unable to meaningfully influence congressional elections in those districts,” the NAACP lawyers allege in the lawsuit.

Attorneys for state lawmakers said the 1st District had to have changes because much of South Carolina’s more than 10% population growth from 2010 to 2020 happened along the coast.

The Legislature also…

This content was originally published here.

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