Monday, June 10, 2024

Thousands Protest Gaza Genocide in 'Red Line' White House Rally

 By Jessica Corbett

"We as the people are drawing the red line today to say enough is enough," said a protester from the Palestinian Youth Movement. "It's time for an arms embargo, and it's time to end this."

As the Israel Defense Forces on Saturday killed over 200 more Palestinians in the Gaza Strip while rescuing four hostages taken by Hamas on October 7, thousands of anti-war protesters descended on the White House in Washington, D.C. 

The rally marked not only eight months of the war but also called out U.S. President Joe Biden for his seemingly empty threat to cut off American arms and diplomatic support for the Israeli military campaign, which has killed more than 36,800 people and wounded over 83,600 in Hamas-governed Gaza since October.  

Thursday, June 6, 2024

$15 minimum wage proposal won’t make 2024 ballot, as Michigan Supreme Court denies appeal

By Jon King

A ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court will prevent a petition effort to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $15 an hour from appearing on the 2024 ballot. 

In an order released Friday, the court said it was “not persuaded that it should grant the requested relief” to set aside a deadlocked decision by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, which is made up of two Democrats and two Republicans and requires a majority vote for passage. 

In a concurring opinion, Justice Brian Zahra said the court would not “second guess” the state canvassing process.

Monday, June 3, 2024

Greater focus on crime sparks another wave of juvenile justice bills

By Amanda Hernandez 

Nearly every state considered changes in juvenile age limits, detention or education programs.

For decades, state legislators and criminal justice advocates have worked to change the juvenile legal system, striving to expand access to rehabilitation and keep young people from returning to crime.

During this year’s legislative session, nearly every state has considered some form of juvenile justice legislation, according to a National Conference of State Legislatures database.

These efforts across at least 43 states plus Washington, D.C., have seen varied levels of success and come from a diversity of viewpoints. Some legislatures considered policies that would create alternatives to incarcerating teens, while others debated bills that would toughen potential penalties for kids as young as 10 years old. Criminal justice advocates warn that strict new policies could roll back previous overhauls of the system.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Gaza: World court orders Israel to halt military operations in Rafah

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday issued new provisional measures that order Israel to immediately end military operations in Rafah in southern Gaza and to open the governate’s border crossing for urgent aid deliveries.

This follows a request from South Africa in a pending case accusing Israel of violating its obligations under the Genocide Convention.

Reading the new provisional measures in an open session at the court in The Hague, ICJ Justice Nawaf Salam announced that Israel must abide by its obligations under the Genocide Convention to “immediately halt its military offensive and any other action in the Rafah governate which may inflict upon the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that would bring about its physical destruction in whole and in part”.

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The court issued that decision by 13 votes in favour to two against.

The new provisional measures came in response to South Africa’s request made on 10 May related to its initial accusations in December that Israel is violating its obligations under the Genocide Convention during the war in Gaza, which broke out after Hamas-led attacks on Israel in October that killed more than 1,200 people and left another 250 taken hostage. 

Israel’s military response has, to date, killed nearly 36,000 Palestinians and caused widespread destruction and a looming famine in the besieged and bombarded enclave.

Court orders opening of Rafah border crossing

Given the worsening conditions on the ground since Israel’s incursion into Rafah on 7 May, the court decided, also by votes of 13 in favour to two against, the new provisional measures shall require Israel to open the Rafah crossing for the unhindered delivery of urgent humanitarian aid and ensure unimpeded access for fact-finding missions to investigate allegations of genocide.

The Rafah border crossing, which has been the main entry point for aid to the enclave, has been closed since 7 May.

“The court is not convinced that evacuation efforts and related measures that Israel has affirmed to have undertaken to enhance the security of civilians in the Gaza Strip, and in particular those recently displaced from the Rafah governate, are sufficient to alleviate immense risks to which the Palestinian population is exposed as a result of the military offensive in Rafah,” Mr. Salam said.

In addition, the ICJ ordered Israel to submit a report within one month on steps taken to implement these provisional measures.

Deteriorating conditions

Mr. Salam said the ICJ had noted that the situation in Gaza has deteriorated since it last issued provisional measures in March, adding that since Israel’s incursion into Rafah, the Najjar Hospital was no longer functioning and aid efforts have been impacted.

The court also noted that Israel’s evacuation orders for Rafah residents had led more than 800,000 people to flee to places like the coastal area of Al Mawasi, which lacked the basic essentials and services to accommodate them.

Since taking up South Africa’s case in January, the ICJ had already issued provisional measures in January and March by which Israel must, among other things, take all steps to ensure sufficient humanitarian aid enters Gaza.

However, UN agencies are reporting that scant aid is currently entering Gaza.

Court reiterates call to release hostages

On Friday, Mr. Salam recalled that in the two previous orders for provisional measures “the court expressed its grave concern over the fate of the hostages abducted during the attack in Israel on 7 October 2023 and held since then by Hamas and other armed groups, and called for their immediate and unconditional release.”

He said “the court finds it deeply troubling that many of these hostages remain in captivity and reiterates its call for their immediate and unconditional release.”

The people of Gaza continue to be forcibly displaced since the military offensive on Rafah started in early May.
The people of Gaza continue to be forcibly displaced since the military offensive on Rafah started in early May.

What’s the difference between the ICJ and the ICC?

There is frequent confusion between the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Both courts have open cases against Israel related to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

The simplest way to explain the difference is that ICJ cases involve countries, and the ICC is a criminal court, which brings cases against individuals for war crimes or crimes against humanity. While the ICJ is an organ of the United Nations, the ICC is legally independent of the UN, although it is endorsed by the General Assembly.

The ICJ is currently considering South Africa’s accusations that Israel is violating the Genocide Convention.

On Monday, the ICC sought arrest warrants related to possible war crimes against three Hamas leaders and Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant. The request for the warrants are now being considered by the court’s judges.

Read more about the courts in our explainers on the ICJ and the ICC.

Watch Friday’s announcement at the ICJ in The Hague below:


Rutgers president takes heat in Congress over handling of Gaza encampments

By Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Three weeks after protestors at Rutgers University in North Brunswick peacefully dismantled their short-lived Gaza solidarity encampment, the university’s president faced intense questioning from Republicans in Washington, D.C., demanding to know why college officials aren’t doing more to combat antisemitism. 

Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway on Thursday again defended the university’s decision to end the protest by negotiating with protestors rather than sending police to break up the encampments. Holloway stressed to lawmakers the importance of building trust with students and promoting curiosity and education. 

“We made a choice. That choice was to engage our students through dialogue as our first option instead of police actions,” he said. “We saw what transpired on other universities and sought a different way.” 

Holloway’s testimony in front of the Republican-led House Committee on Education and the Workforce — where he was joined by Northwestern University President Michael Schill and University of California at Los Angeles Chancellor Gene Block — came as GOP lawmakers continue to grill university presidents over the Gaza encampments that have become flashpoints for growing unease with the war in Gaza.

It was the third time lawmakers have invited university leaders to testify on the Hill about the campus protests. And it was the second time this month Holloway has taken the hot seat to face questioning from lawmakers. Members of the Legislature’s budget committees interrogated him about the encampments on May 9.

The university leaders on Thursday said they agree that attacks on Jewish people are increasing on college campuses and across the country, but they disputed that their colleges are hotbeds for antisemitism. Holloway said every instance of discrimination on campus is investigated and involves law enforcement, from campus police to the FBI when necessary.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina and chairwoman of the committee, scolded the college officials for their agreements with protestors and for not taking enough disciplinary action against faculty and students involved. Four Rutgers have been suspended, and 19 others are under investigation, Holloway said.

“Each of you should be ashamed of your decisions that allowed antisemitic encampments to endanger Jewish students,” Foxx said. “Mr. Schill and Dr. Holloway, you should be double ashamed for capitulating to the antisemitic rule breakers.”

University leaders, including Holloway, have expressed concerns over balancing students’ free speech rights and public safety. Holloway said when he learned via an Instagram post that student protestors planned a 7 a.m. protest to disrupt finals — which he called a “wild violation” of the agreement they made earlier that week to keep the encampment quiet — he decided to order the encampment to disperse.

Some schools responded to their protests by calling in police to break them up. Holloway stressed the importance of building trust with students.

Rutgers officials gave in to some of the protestors’ 10 demands in exchange for them dismantling their encampment, like accepting 10 displaced Palestinian students to finish their education, creating an Arab cultural center, and reviewing the school’s relationship with Birzeit University in the West Bank.

Much of Thursday’s questioning of Holloway came from Rep. Donald Norcross (D-01), New Jersey’s only representative on the panel. He and Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-05) have criticized Holloway for not doing enough to ensure Jewish students feel safe on campus, and for leaving Jewish students out of negotiations with the protestors.

“There are rules in all types of protests on college campuses, no matter what the reason is. I’ve participated in protests over my lifetime, and when I crossed the line, I paid the consequences. So what I want to dig into today is what are those lines, when were they crossed, and how you reacted,” Norcross said.

Over the summer, Rutgers will partner with the Anti-Defamation League to implement new training for students and staff and address concerns from a Jewish faculty and staff group that asked the university in December to share information on antisemitism on campus and beef up security around Jewish organizations on campus. Holloway said those requests are “being acted on post haste.”

Holloway also took heat from Republicans who targeted the Center for Security, Race, and Rights, which is based out of Rutgers’ Newark campus. The center has hosted controversial figures, including a speaker who was convicted on federal charges for conspiring to provide material to terrorist organizations and was invited to speak on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Holloway said he often doesn’t agree with the center and thinks some of their ideas are “wildly offensive.” But on a campus of 100,000 faculty and students, there are events he’s not always aware of, he admitted. He said he has no plans to close the center.

“If you’re not willing to close and defund this cesspool of hate, the state of New Jersey should,” Foxx said.

This article originally appeared in the New Jersey Monitor on May 24th, 2024.

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Monday, May 27, 2024

Tennessee rep calls Memphis preemption bill worse than “overreach”

By Sam Stockard

Governor signs measure turning back city ordinance despite speaking with mother of slain motorist

A Memphis state representative is calling a preemption bill signed into law by the governor more than a case of “overreach” as it turns back efforts to stop “pretextual” traffic stops such as those that led to the 2023 death of motorist Tyre Nichols.

“The majority once again is more concerned with being patriarchal and telling us poor folks in Memphis and Shelby County how to live and taking the authority that’s been vested by the voters and really making it moot,” Democratic state Rep. G.A. Hardaway said Monday. 

The Republican-controlled General Assembly passed legislation this year prohibiting a Memphis City Council ban on “pretextual” stops, including those for a bad tail light. Only stops for “primary” offenses were to be allowed.

The Legislature’s move came after Nichols’ parents, RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, worked with Memphis officials to end stereotyping that can turn into violent incidents. 

Nichols died in January 2023 after being pulled over for reckless driving, then was beaten by police officers. The death led to local requests for a federal investigation of Memphis police policies. 

The majority once again is more concerned with being patriarchal and telling us poor folks in Memphis and Shelby County how to live and taking the authority that’s been vested by the voters and really making it moot.

– Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis

Gov. Bill Lee said last week he spoke with Mrs. Wells during this year’s session as she lobbied against the bill. He noted he appreciated her ability to express her views passionately without being disrespectful and even found her approach “inspirational.”

Yet he signed the bill she opposed anyway, pointing out he disagreed with her views on the legislation.

Five police officers were charged in connection with Nichols’ death, and one pleaded guilty in November 2023 to federal and state charges.

A U.S. Department of Justice investigation into Memphis Police practices continues, according to Hardaway, who sought the federal probe of police policy after helping lead a local group that put together police statistics.

The Wells family could not be reached for comment on the governor’s decision to sign the bill into law. But during the 2023 session, Mrs. Wells said she felt police were “harassing the Black citizens of Memphis.” Her husband contended police are “discriminating” against people of color, and, as a result, “too many parents are going through what we’re going through — senselessly.”

The legislation reversing Memphis’ traffic stop ordinance was sponsored by Republican Sen. Brent Taylor of Memphis and Republican Rep. John Gillespie of Memphis.

Rep. John Gillespie called for a vote on a measure limiting local officials' ability to monitor police traffic stops. (Photo: John Partipilo)
 Rep. John Gillespie called for a vote on a measure limiting local officials’ ability to monitor police traffic stops. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Gillespie also spoke with the Wells family during this year’s session but moved ahead with his bill when they weren’t present and said those who oppose state traffic laws should change them instead of “enacting local ordinances that are in conflict with state law.” Gillespie came under criticism for bringing the bill up for a House vote several days after the Wells family visited the State Capitol to lobby against the measure.

Taylor also was adamantly opposed to the Memphis ordinance and backed several law-and-order measures in hopes of curbing crime in urban Shelby County.

Hardaway argues that most Shelby County residents supported the local ordinance and added he is “suspicious” that the bill’s passage had more to do with political contributions than good law enforcement policy.

He was unaware the governor had spoken with the Wells family but said, “They’re very gracious in the way they accommodate individuals who think like they think and those who don’t. They know that there’s a certain level of sensitivity that some people are gonna express but it won’t be followed up by any real serious work to prevent the circumstances that caused Tyre Nichols’ death.”

Local research presented to the U.S. Department of Justice verified there was enough evidence to show patterns of discriminatory police work, Hardaway said. He was uncertain when the federal report would be finished.

This article originally appeared in the Tennessee Lookout on May 24th, 2024.


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Memorial Day Weekend Could See Mass Evictions - Oklahoma County Has 387 Cases on Thursday’s Docket

By Heather Warlick

Memorial Day weekend could see more people than usual packing up their homes in a hurry after being evicted. Thursday, Judge Trent Pipes will handle more than 380 eviction cases in small claims court, more than double the usual number of cases heard in a single day.

Oklahoma County Court Clerk Rick Warren said the holiday weekend is to blame for the overload.

Normally, Warren said, eviction court dockets contain no more than 180 cases. Thursday’s docket contains 387; Wednesday’s docket has 222. Pipes consented to the extra caseload. 

If all 387 defendants on Thursday’s docket attend their hearings, which usually take place during a two-hour time period, the judge will have less than 19 seconds per case to ascertain the facts and render decisions. That’s without any pauses between cases. 

However, a whopping 78% of Oklahoma evictions that resulted in judgments against tenants in 2023 were due to tenants not appearing to defend themselves at their hearings, said Amy Coldren, CEO at Shelterwell. Since 48% of cases result in judgments, that means 35% of all eviction cases resulted in losses by default. 

For those who do show up, Legal Aid Services Oklahoma will have its entire team of housing attorneys offering free representation for tenants. Some may not know to seek out Legal Aid Services, Executive Director Michael Figgins said. 

“For those who do know to seek Legal Aid, the docket size will put efficiency as the paramount goal and increase pressure to hurry and afford little time to get facts and prepare,” Figgins said. 

Factors other than the holiday weekend contribute to what eviction attorney Robert Goldman called a perfect storm for Thursday’s docket. 

Eviction cases are often filed after that month’s rent is late, resulting in more late-month hearings. 

Eviction hearings must take place at least five days after a summons is issued, but no more than 10 days after. That requirement can force a lot of cases onto a docket. Since Oklahoma County District Court holds eviction proceedings Mondays through Thursdays, with Fridays dark, a missed day on Monday means cases have to be crunched into the former week.

Attorney Richard Klinge said that because many people don’t show up for hearings and, oftentimes, agreements or settlements are made outside the courtroom, the remaining parties who wish to go before the judge will all have their chance. 

Klinge is the director of the Pro-Bono Housing Eviction Legal Assistance Program at the Oklahoma City University School of Law. “We have tremendous judges in Oklahoma County, and in six years, I have never been denied the right to a full hearing,” Klinge said. “Do I wish the dockets were not that big? Sure, but the Legislature’s got to address that.”. 

Statutory details like these can lead to massive overloads once or twice a year, said Legal Services Oklahoma attorney Justin Neal.

“I don’t think any of this is fair, but the law isn’t about being fair,” Neal said. “The law is about enforcing statutes.”

Neal said he doesn’t know how any person can be reasonably expected to look at all of the necessities of a proper eviction filing and confirm that everything is correct in such a short time. 

A similarly overloaded docket hit the courthouse about a year ago, Neal said. Legal Aid Services managed to help everyone who sought it, but it was still a crazy day.

Goldman said he has seen days like this, usually about once or twice a year. He’s been in Oklahoma courthouses since the mid-1970s. 

He said it would be like any other day, only faster-paced, and that Pipes will be able to accurately determine within the parameters of the law the facts of each case and return a judgment or other decision.

Goldman will bring a second lawyer or assistant to court on Thursday to help handle his caseload. 

On Thursday, Tulsa County District Court has only 91 cases on the docket, split into four time slots. May 28, the day after the holiday, has 139.

Kilinge and Warren both said extending the time limit for eviction hearings would help prevent overscheduled dockets.

“This will probably be the biggest docket of the year,” Figgins said. “If this does not sound fair it is because it is not fair.” 

This article originally appeared in Oklahoma Watch on May 24th, 2024.


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Thursday, May 23, 2024

U.S. Supreme Court throws out SC racial gerrymandering ruling

By Seanna Adcox

Split high court upholds GOP map, but sends case back to federal panel for further analysis

A federal court “clearly erred” in determining that South Carolina legislators racially gerrymandered congressional voting lines to keep the coastal 1st District red, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday in sending the case back to the three-judge panel for further analysis on a separate question.

Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, repeatedly used the terms “clearly erred” and “clearly erroneous” in rejecting the lower court’s reasoning for its 2023 ruling that the lines were unconstitutionally drawn.

“To sum up our analysis so far, no direct evidence supports the District Court’s finding that race predominated in the design of District 1,” Alito wrote, further calling the lower court’s approach “seriously misguided.”

Advocates for the plaintiffs decried the ruling, saying the high court broke its own precedent by ignoring the lower court’s findings and made future challenges for racial discrimination more difficult.

In this redistricting case, the question was whether the GOP-controlled Legislature based its admittedly partisan aim on voters’ race as they moved precincts between the 1st and 6th districts.

The Legislature’s GOP leaders testified the goal was to make the 1st District safer for a Republican, following a narrow flip to blue in 2018 and a similarly narrow flip back to red in 2020. The staffer who chiefly drew the map said he used political data on precincts that voted Democrat in 2020 to move the lines. Their testimony easily explains the final map, the majority of justices concluded.

The opinion noted the map was drawn with input from U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the state’s longest-serving congressman and only Democrat, “whose recommendations would have preserved the strong Democratic tilt” in his adjoining 6th District.

The 6th, which has been a majority-minority district since the post-1990-census redistricting, already spanned counties from Columbia to Charleston, while the 1st spanned the state’s southern coastline.

The changes put all of Beaufort and Berkeley counties in the 1st District, as well as more of the Republican parts of Dorchester County. Charleston County was further split between the two districts, with the 6th District given more of West Ashley and the entire peninsula, to include uber expensive homes South of Broad.

In all, 193,000 South Carolinians were moved between the two districts. The final map “achieved the Legislature’s political goal” of increasing the GOP advantage in District 1, as the projected Republican voter share rose 1.4 percentage points to 54.4%, reads the majority ruling.

 Map of South Carolina’s 1st and 6th congressional districts as drawn in 2011. (Screenshot of Figure 1 in the U.S. Supreme Court’s May 23, 2024, ruling.)

“The circumstantial evidence falls far short of showing that race, not partisan preferences, drove the districting process, and none of the expert reports offered by the Challengers provides any significant support for their position,” Alito wrote.

Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, whose testimony was cited by justices, contends the 1st District is still politically competitive.

“I said it would have been political malpractice for us to sacrifice the 1st (District),” the Edgefield Republican told reporters Thursday about his testimony. “We were not going to pass a plan that sacrificed the First, but that was all about political calculations. And that was the case because those were the rules the Supreme Court set out.”

Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote the 34-page dissenting opinion, was joined by liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson, the court’s newest member.

 A map of South Carolina’s 1st and 6th congressional districts as redrawn in 2022. (Screenshot of Figure 2 in the U.S. Supreme Court’s May 23, 2024, ruling.)

Kagan scoffed at the majority’s reasoning.

“The Challengers introduced more than enough evidence of racial gerrymandering to support the District Court’s judgment,” she wrote. “The majority picks and chooses evidence to its liking; ignores or minimizes less convenient proof; disdains the panel’s judgments about witness credibility; and makes a series of mistakes about expert opinions.”

Map makers obviously used data on race to achieve the desired Republican tilt, she wrote, pointing to the percentage of Black residents 18 and older in the 1st District. Despite all the precinct moves, “the district’s racial balance did not budge.”

The Black voting-age population in the district went from 16.6% to 16.7%. Such a constant would not have been possible without the use of racial data, she wrote.

The case will return to the lower court to re-evaluate challengers’ separate claim of the redrawn lines diluting the Black vote. Alito said the judges’ ruling on that was tied to the faulty reasoning on racial gerrymandering.

“In light of our conclusion that those findings were clearly erroneous, that conclusion cannot stand,” wrote Alito, who spent several pages of his opinion dismissing Kagan’s criticisms.

Justice Clarence Thomas agreed with most of Alito’s conclusions but wrote a separate opinion disagreeing that any further analysis on voter dilution is needed.

The complaint “combines two stereotypes by assuming that black South Carolinians can be properly represented only by a black Democrat,” Thomas wrote. “The vote dilution analysis in this case inevitably reduces black Charlestonians to partisan pawns and racial tokens. The analysis is demeaning to the courts asked to perform it, to say nothing of the black voters that it stereotypes.”

The three lower court judges — Richard Gergel, Mary Geiger Lewis and Toby Heytens — ruled in January 2023 that state lawmakers drew the coastal 1st District, held by Republican Nancy Mace, in a way that discriminates against Black voters.

The judicial panel sided with the NAACP, ACLU of South Carolina and Taiwan Scott, a Black Hilton Head Island resident who lives in the 1st District, who challenged the new lines following the 2020 census with arguments they violated the Constitution’s 14th and 15th amendments.

“It’s as though we don’t matter, but we do matter, and our voices should be heard,” Scott told reporters after the ruling. “It’s sad to see the decision after, you know, three federal judges ruled we were racially gerrymandered. But we won’t stop.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling changes nothing for this year’s elections.

The lower court’s ruling last year put South Carolina’s congressional elections on hold until a new map was drawn. But in late March, the judges reluctantly agreed to let this year’s elections continue as scheduled with the Legislature’s 2022 map, since the nation’s high court had yet to weigh in and candidate filing for the June party primaries was just days from concluding.

In the 1st District, three Republicans, including Mace, and two Democrats are competing in the June 11 primaries. In the 6th District, Clyburn has no primary challenger. Two Republicans are facing off for the opportunity to challenge him in November. But Clyburn, first elected in 1992, is expected to easily win a 17th term.

The chief attorney for the NAACP legal defense fund said the group is still assessing next moves.

“There is a potential avenue for plaintiffs to try to redress the harm of the racially discriminatory map,” Leah Aden, who argued the case before the nation’s high court, told reporters. “But what we will do and what that will look like, I think we are still wrapping our heads around now.”

Officials with the ACLU pledged that the fight will continue.

“Today is a dark day for democracy in South Carolina, but all hope is not lost,” said Jace Woodrum, executive director of the ACLU’s state branch. “For now, the Supreme Court has upheld a racially gerrymandered map, and South Carolina voters are the ones who will suffer the consequences. … We remain committed to ending gerrymandering in our state and will use every tool at our disposal until ‘We the People’ truly means all of us.”

SC Daily Gazette reporters Abraham Kenmore and Skylar Laird contributed to this report. 

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on South Carolina’s voting lines brought responses from across the political spectrum. Here are some of the differing opinions:

• Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Isle of Palms, who led redistricting efforts in the Senate: “I am pleased that the United States Supreme Court agreed with what we have said all along: the First Congressional District map was not racially gerrymandered.”

• U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, 6th District: “Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Alexander v. South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP is further affirmation that this Court has chosen to disenfranchise Black voters and rob us of our fundamental access to the ballot box.”

• Senate President Thomas Alexander, R-Walhalla: “As I have said throughout this process, our plan was meticulously crafted to comply with statutory and constitutional requirements, and I was completely confident we would prevail. With its decision today, the Supreme Court affirmed the hard work of South Carolina senators and the product they produced as constitutional.”

• Brenda Murphy, president of the NAACP in South Carolina: “Today the Supreme Court has failed the American people, voting rights have taken another gut punch, and the future of democracy in South Carolina is dangling by a thread. Make no mistake, though, we are not backing down from this fight.”

• S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster: “The Supreme Court, I think, was clear. I think they examined the question and followed the law. … And I think they made the right decision.”

• Janai Nelson, president and director-counsel of the Legal Defense Fund: “The highest court in our land greenlit racial discrimination in South Carolina’s redistricting process, denied Black voters the right to be free from the race-based sorting and sent a message that facts, process, and precedent will not protect the Black vote.”

• Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R-Edgefield: “I’m pleased, but it’s what we expected was going to happen. We took a lot of effort and spent a lot of time to make sure we did redistricting the right way, so we felt confident we were going to prevail, and we did.”

• Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux, deputy director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project: “At the end of the day, the Supreme Court essentially says that short of the most flagrant kind of evidence pointing to racial intent — short of someone standing in the public square and saying they’re drawing a racist map — that this Legislature was going to get a pass, and that has never been the law, and it shouldn’t be the law.”

• Michael B. Moore, one of two Democrats in the District 1 primary: “Regardless of the congressional map, this race is all about connecting with folks in South Carolina’s coastal communities. … We have a plan to win in November, no matter the playing field, and we’re more confident than ever about our footing in the fight for SC-01.”

This article originally appeared in the South Carolina Daily Gazette on May 24th, 2024.

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