The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Moore v. Harper, a North Carolina redistricting case that could fundamentally alter the role of state courts in protecting voters. It’s based on the fringe “independent state legislature” theory. This could pave the way for bad faith politicians to manipulate election maps and laws to suit their political interests instead of the interests of voters.
The case focuses on gerrymandered district maps in North Carolina that the North Carolina Supreme Court previously struck down for violating the state’s constitution. That court held that the map was an extreme partisan gerrymander that violated the state constitution's guarantee of equal protection and freedom of speech.
The basis of the argument in Moore v. Harper is a fringe legal concept that state legislatures have the ultimate authority under the U.S. Constitution to set and change election laws, even if those laws violate the state’s constitution. Political actors invoked this concept ahead of the January 6 attack on our country, in an unsuccessful attempt to overturn the 2020 election.
The decision to take up Moore v. Harper is the latest in a series of Supreme Court decisions that will have long-term consequences for the health of American democracy.
Tweetable quote: Voters should be the ones who decide elections, not politicians in state legislatures. The Supreme Court’s decision to take up next term the fringe independent state legislature theory could shield state legislatures from being checked by state courts in matters of voting laws.