Welcome back to Everything’s Political, Worldacad’s weekly news, culture, and politics newsletter!

In this edition, learn about the U.S. Supreme Court’s devastating decision on a South Carolina congressional map, the pardon of a man who killed a Black Lives Matter protester, voting rights in Louisiana, the search for a missing Black woman in Mississippi, a pro-insurrectionist flag flying outside a U.S. Supreme Court justice’s home, and Abbott Elementary’s radical commitment to Black joy.

Now, on with the show.

Black South Carolinians Can’t Catch a Break

The Palmetto State won’t have a fair map in 2024. What a gut-wrenching reversal.

In a 6-3 decision on Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that South Carolina’s congressional map isn’t a racial gerrymander. Earlier, a lower court had struck down the map.

According to Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion for the majority, if a state defends a map by saying that it isn’t a racial gerrymander but rather a partisan one, then the plaintiffs must demonstrate that a partisan gerrymander is possible without targeting voters of color.

The problem? Race and party are linked, particularly in the South. This means that the most surefire way for Republican lawmakers to draw a map that benefits their party is by targeting Black voters.

As Brenda Murphy, the president of the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, a plaintiff in the case, said earlier this year, “For over a century, the NAACP has worked fervently to protect Black Americans’ access to the ballot box. Make no mistake — these discriminatory maps are a direct attempt to suppress Black voices ahead of a consequential election.”

A Heartbreaking Pardon

The decision was both chilling and telling.

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott fulfilled a long-held pledge last Thursday, when he pardoned Daniel Perry, a former Army sergeant serving 25 years in prison for fatally shooting Garrett Foster, a 28-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran, at a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest.

Foster’s mother said that she feels as if the peace she and so many others had fought for has been ripped “right from under us.”

For Black Americans and those who embrace racial justice, Abbott’s pardon sends an alarming message — that murder can be forgiven as long as your target has the “wrong” politics.

Or as Slate’s Joel D. Anderson put it on X, “These people really hate us, man. And they’re increasingly unafraid of proving it.”

Voting Rights in the Bayou State

There’s been no shortage of action in Louisiana when it comes to voting rights.

Last Thursday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, known for its conservatism, began revisiting a 1986 case and its resulting consent decree, an agreement ensuring that Louisiana’s Supreme Court elections don’t violate the country’s Voting Rights Act. Louisiana appealed to the court because, now, it wants to abolish the decree, which has been a boon for Black representation on the bench.

And last Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court gave the greenlight for Louisiana to use a congressional map with two majority-Black districts in the 2024 elections. Even so, the issue is poised for a showdown during the next term, which starts in the fall. The court will likely hear a challenge from a group of “non-African American” Louisianans who insist that using a map that complies with the Voting Rights Act discriminates against white Americans and, as a result, violates the 14th and 15th Amendments.

Together, these two cases shine a light on the uncertainty looming over Black voting rights — and the importance of keeping an eye on the Bayou State in the months ahead.

Searching for Latasha Crump Coleman

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi has a plea for the FBI — help.

The Democratic lawmaker last week called on the authorities to investigate the disappearance of Latasha Crump Coleman, a 46-year-old Jackson native.

“The expertise and resources of the FBI are essential in situations like these, where time is of the essence and the need for a thorough, exhaustive investigation is paramount,” Thompson said.

Coleman’s disappearance might bring to mind the larger epidemic of missing Black Americans.

As my colleague Christina Carrega reported last year, while Black women and girls make up only 7% of the U.S. population, they account for 40% of missing women and girls cases.

I encourage you to check out her story to learn more about the lawmakers from California to Wisconsin to New York who are introducing legislation to focus the country’s collective attention on a crisis that’s too often ignored.

Waving the Flag of the Far Right?

Wednesday, news broke that an “Appeal to Heaven” flag was seen flying over U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s vacation home last summer. The flag, which was carried by rioters on Jan. 6, is “a symbol of support for former President Donald J. Trump, for a religious strand of the ‘Stop the Steal’ campaign and for a push to remake American government in Christian terms,” The New York Times reported.

This comes just a week after we learned that an upside-down American flag flew outside Alito’s primary residence 10 days after the insurrection. The inverted flag was used by Trump followers around the time of Jan. 6 to broadcast their belief in the lie that the contest had been stolen.

When asked about the upside-down flag, Alito pointed the finger at his wife, telling The New York Times that he “had no involvement whatsoever in the flying of the flag” and that “it was briefly placed by Mrs. Alito in response to a neighbor’s use of objectionable and personally insulting language on yard signs.” At press time, Alito has made no comments on the “Appeal to Heaven” flag, and it’s unknown if the same or a similarly critical neighbor also has a home near the couple’s beach house.

We can’t say for sure what these incidents might reveal about Alito’s jurisprudence. But the fact that he and Justice Clarence Thomas are linked to attempts to block the 2020 election and, more generally, thwart multiracial democracy is troubling.

The Supreme Court is set to rule on two consequential cases involving the attack on the Capitol. One would determine whether Trump is immune from prosecution on election subversion charges. The other case, which arrived to the court during the weeks in which an “Appeal to Heaven” flag billowed above Alito’s summer getaway, would decide whether prosecutors can charge Jan. 6 rioters with obstruction.

The Everlasting Joy of Abbott Elementary

Black students have always had it rough.

Disciplinary policies with roots in widespread resistance to school desegregation efforts still banish Black kids from classrooms. And as President Joe Biden recently noted on the campaign trail, Black borrowers face a “disproportionate debt burden” when they try to pay back their student loans.

These are just two reasons why, to me, the Emmy-winning series Abbott Elementary feels like a balm — or at least like a temporary reprieve. The show, whose Season 3 finale aired on Wednesday, lets Black students have fun.

Starring Quinta Brunson as the bright-eyed teacher Janine Teagues (Brunson is also the show’s creator), Abbott Elementary charts the chaotic adventures of a group of educators at the titular, largely Black public school in Philadelphia.

The series doesn’t shy away from the major challenges that the Abbott crew faces, such as relentless funding woes and bureaucratic hurdles. But neither does it forget its center of gravity: the delightful kids.

One of my favorite episodes is a Halloween special where a boy nicknamed “Baby Thanos” takes a stash of candy and distributes it to the other students, turning them into a horde of sugar-addled tyrants who threaten to take over the school.

This levity, this Black joy, is the show’s stock-in-trade. And I can’t wait to indulge in it again when Abbott Elementary eventually returns for Season 4.

Pledging my loyalty to Baby Thanos,

Brandon Tensley

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Samuel Alito's title. He is a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Brandon Tensley is Worldacad's national politics reporter.