Democrats appeal redistricting lawsuit

abeam@thestate.com March 19, 2012 

Dick Harpootlian is appealing the decision of three federal judges’ to uphold South Carolina’s state House and U.S. Congressional districts -- but the appeal will not affect this year’s elections.

Harpootlian -- an attorney and chairman of the state Democratic Party -- challenged South Carolina’s new House and Congressional districts on behalf of eight black voters. Two weeks ago, after a two day trial at the federal courthouse, a three-judge panel ruled in favor of House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston.

But in appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, Harpootlian said he will not ask the court for an injunction to stop the state’s election process. Filing for state offices opened Friday and will continue through the end of the month.

Harpootlian said if the Supreme Court rules in his favor, it would trigger new elections next year.

“We did a legal analysis, and we believe we have a valid claim,” Harpootlian said.

Rob Tyson, an attorney for Harrell, said he was disappointed with Harpootlian’s decision to appeal because it will “Require a lot of time ane effort something a three-judge panel heard and decided and, we thought, issued a good opinion.”

Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.

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