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South Carolina can keep redrawn districts, Supreme Court says

The Supreme Court in Washington, DC, November 6, 2013.

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WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court said Monday that South Carolina can keep its redrawn state house and congressional maps despite a challenge from black voters in the state.

The justices offered no comment when they rejected the appeal from voters, who wanted the court to re-examine the newly drawn borders of state house and congressional districts.

In 2012, six black voters from counties in the southern and eastern parts of the state sued Republican Gov. Nikki Haley and the Republican-controlled state legislature. They sought to throw out the redrawn district maps and prevent the state from holding any elections based on those maps. They argued the maps pushed black voters into one congressional district and created "voting apartheid."

A three-judge federal panel upheld the lines in March 2012, saying there was no convincing evidence they had diluted black voters' power at the ballot box. That prompted then-South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court upheld the lines that year but opponents asked a lower court to set aside that ruling after a 2013 decision from the high court that struck down a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Previously, South Carolina was one of the southern states that was required to seek federal approval to alter its election maps because of a history of discrimination against black voters.

The lower court said there was no need to re-examine its previous findings that the state's districts are fair and don't discriminate against racial minorities.