South Carolina’s new congressional seats moved one major step forward with the Justice Department’s approval of the state’s redistricting plan Monday.
The South Carolina General Assembly approved the new districts in July. However, because of South Carolina’s troubled past with civil rights, the Justice Department also has to “pre-clear” the new map. That blessing came down Monday, as the agency said it will not challenge the districts drawn by the Republican-led body.
However, the plans still are not finalized, especially as Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian says he will sue to challenge them in the coming weeks. Harpootlian says the proposal relies on an outdated method of creating majority-minority districts– that is, districts where minorities (usually African-Americans) outnumber whites. Harpootlian and other Democrats accused Republicans of purposely grouping minority communities together to thin the reliably-Democratic voters out of Republican-held districts.
Because of population growth, South Carolina picks up a new seventh seat in 2012, which the new plan centers in the Pee Dee area. Meanwhile, the First District represented by Congressman Tim Scott slides away from Myrtle Beach down the coast to include Beaufort, while the Sixth District under Jim Clyburn drops out of the Pee Dee and moves more into the Savannah River valley. Second District Congressman Joe Wilson’s seat moves out of the Beaufort area and tightens in the Midlands.