The Roberts Court, April 23, 2021 Seated from left to right: Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr. and Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor Standing from left to right: Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil M. Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett. Photograph by Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States
The U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear a North Carolina redistricting case that could have significant consequences for the election-regulating powers of state legislatures across the country.
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Next term, the Supreme Court decided on Thursday to hear the case of Moore v. Harper, in which North Carolina House Speaker Timothy Moore is asking that the principle of the “independent state legislature” be affirmed. The principle, which is grounded in the U.S. Consitution, assigns state legislators sole and “independent” authority to set rules for federal elections in their states, without state judges or the governor interfering or providing oversight.
The questions presented, as shared on Ballotpedia:
“Whether a State’s judicial branch may nullify the regulations governing the “Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives . . . prescribed . . . by the Legislature thereof,” U.S. CONST. art. I, § 4, cl. 1, and replace them with regulations of the state courts’ own devising, based on vague state constitutional provisions purportedly vesting the state judiciary with power to prescribe whatever rules it deems appropriate to ensure a “fair” or “free” election.”
Critics of the theory argue that it will reduce judicial oversight of election rules.
The Brennan Center for Justice argues that the theory “would give state legislatures wide authority to gerrymander electoral maps and pass voter suppression laws.”
Just The News reported:
The case that SCOTUS has decided to hear concerns the congressional redistricting map passed by North Carolina’s Republican state Legislature, which the state Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional. In North Carolina, the governor is a Democrat, and the state Supreme Court has a narrow Democratic majority.
Adams, president of Public Interest Legal Foundation, told the John Solomon Reports podcast on Thursday that the Supreme Court taking this case is “gigantic.”
“It’s one of the biggest cert grants that I can think of since Shelby v. Holder, which, of course, related to oversight by the Justice Department of every state election law,” Adams said. “And I think it’s indicative of a court that has gotten a nasty whiff the last couple of terms of government overreach. Whether it’s, you know, the EPA, or whether it’s the Justice Department, I think this court is ready to rein in judges and bureaucrats.”
Hogan Gidley, the director of the Center for Election Integrity at the America First Policy Institute, told the “Just the News, Not Noise” TV show on Friday that “moving forward,” the case “could be quite consequential.”
Gidley said the North Carolina people “are fired up about election integrity. It’s their number one issue, and every time the Legislature makes a move, the governor vetoes a particular bill, or [these] courts step in and ruin whatever the legislative branch tried to do. They did it in so many cases, redistricting was one of them.”
Former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams said, “I think it really sets up the awareness by this Court about who should have power.”
“[T]he Founders put the deepest reservoir of power in this country with the state legislatures — that’s who they really, really trusted with power more than anybody else.”