US Supreme Court to Hear High-Stakes Elections Case

The US Supreme Court on Wednesday heard a case that could fundamentally change the way democracy operates in America by expanding the power of state legislatures over elections to the White House and Congress.

The case, Moore v. Harper would potentially give lawmakers in each of the 50 US states more power in deciding who, where and how to vote in federal elections.

The prospect has raised concerns on the left in a country still divided by Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the 2020 election results.

But it has also worried some on the right.

The case centered on a doctrine known as the “independent state legislature” doctrine advanced by Republican lawmakers in the southern state of North Carolina.

Under the Constitution, the rules for federal elections are determined by state legislatures.

The Elections Clause states, “The time, place and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives shall be determined by the Legislature in each State.”

State legislatures use their authority to map out congressional districts, set polling hours, and agree on rules for voter registration and mail-in ballots.

However, their laws are subject to legal scrutiny by local courts and a possible veto by the state’s governor.

Not now, if North Carolina lawmakers have their way.

In their brief to the nation’s highest court, they say that the Constitution “sets forth a detailed set of specific rights, specific procedures, and specific allocations of power.

“Here, those carefully drawn lines place the regulation of federal elections in the hands of state legislatures, Congress, and nobody else.”

Amy Mason Sahariya, a Washington attorney who has argued several cases before the Supreme Court, said “the doctrine has never been adopted, but it’s been around for some time” and the conservative-dominated court has embraced it. Can apply

‘Reshape American Democracy’

Roy Cooper, the Democratic governor of North Carolina, warned that “the court’s ruling on this dangerous argument could fundamentally reshape American democracy.

“Our democracy is a fragile ecosystem that requires checks and balances to survive,” Cooper wrote in an opinion piece published in the New York Times.

Cooper said, “Republican leaders in the North Carolina legislature have shown us how the election process can be manipulated for partisan gain.”

“And that’s what you can expect to see from state legislatures across the country if the court reverses course in this case.”

Moore v. Harper stemmed from an election dispute in North Carolina.

The 2020 Census found that the state’s population had increased, earning it an additional seat in the US House of Representatives.

North Carolina lawmakers redrawn the congressional map to add a new district, but the state Supreme Court struck it down in February, arguing that it favored Republicans by grouping Democrats in some districts. Due to which his vote decreased.

A second map was also deemed unfair and the state high court eventually appointed an independent expert to conduct a redistricting.

North Carolina lawmakers appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that local courts were abusing their authority.

The Supreme Court declined to intervene immediately, and the expert-drawn map was used in the November midterm elections, which resulted in seven House members from each party.


Democrats, from the state level to President Joe Biden, law professors and prominent civil rights organizations have urged the Supreme Court to strike down the doctrine.

Sophia Lynn Lakin of the American Civil Liberties Union warned of the dangers of an adversarial decision.

“An extreme interpretation of the US Constitution by the Supreme Court in this case would make it even easier for state legislators to suppress the vote, vote fraud, gerrymander election districts and potentially sabotage election results,” she said.

The Republican Party dismissed the criticism as alarmist.

The National Republican Committee said in a brief, “Self-appointed constitutional law experts have convinced a healthy cross-section of armchair court watchers that should the court decide the matter wrongly, it will signal the end of democracy.” ” Nonsense “

Several prominent conservatives expressed concern.

Former Republican Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “Our political system would suffer if partisan gerrymanders were left completely without state-level checks and balances.”

The court has to give its verdict by the end of June.

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