The Supreme Court decided to hear out points in a case that support a contentious legal principle which would give state legislatures more control over elections.
What’s Going On?
The Republican Speaker of the House of North Carolina filed Moore v. Harper, challenging the state Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate the legislature’s parliamentary maps due to gerrymandering.
This happened shortly after the court released its last decisions of the term on Thursday.
The state’s legislative maps were found to have improperly favored Republicans, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled in February. The GOP-drawn plan might have handed the party rule over up to 11 of the state’s 14 closely divided seats.
The “autonomous region legislative” theory, advanced by Republican legislators in an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, contends the state court has very little power to monitor the legislature’s decisions on federal elections.
According to the notion, state legislators have almost unchecked authority to create the rules for national elections; state courts have little or no power to review those laws.
The Electoral Votes Clause and the Elections Clause, two constitutional provisions that name state legislatures, but do not specifically mention the judiciary, are the foundation of the argument.
The argument has gained more traction among Republicans as a means of getting past courts that recently invalidated redistricting plans for being partisan gerrymanders.
BREAKING: The Supreme Court agreed to hear Moore v Harper, an appeal advocating for extreme interpretation of the Constitution that could make it easier for state legislatures to suppress the vote, draw unfair election districts, enable partisan interference in ballot counting.
— Brennan Center (@BrennanCenter) June 30, 2022
“A few of the Constitution’s clauses are debatable in a fair way. Others are not,” the Republican National Committee and other GOP organizations wrote earlier this year.
The brief stated, “Any function for the state courts is missing from the legally prescribed sequence of authorities.”
“Despite this omission, certain commonwealth and state courts have appropriated the procedures that belong to the democratically responsible branches of government,” the statement reads.
The Supreme Court’s conclusion states legislatures alone have the authority to decide federal elections might have a significant impact on gerrymandering procedures and election processes.
The most extreme interpretation of the “independent state legislative” idea might sideline court decisions and even governors.
A Win For Conservatives
Conservative state lawmakers would be well-positioned to distort maps in their favor and implement necessary changes that Republicans want for voting procedures since they currently control 30 state legislatures.
Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, as well as Brett Kavanaugh, four conservative judges, have indicated at least a general receptivity to the hypothesis.
BREAKING: The Supreme Court takes up a case about the independent state legislature doctrine for next term, which could give state legislatures far greater power over all manner of election laws. https://t.co/R2jTEKWoeT
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) June 30, 2022
The notion also served as the foundation for former President Trump’s ultimately futile effort to persuade states to select a slate of alternative electors for the 2020 presidential election.
Later this autumn or early next year, the court is most likely to hear the case’s arguments.
The Merrill v. Milligan case, which election attorneys and civil rights organizations fear might weaken the Voting Rights Act, is also scheduled to have its Supreme Court oral arguments in October.