Moore v. Harper case could free states to alter the fundamentals of federal elections
The U.S. Supreme Court is prepared to hear Moore v. Harper later this year, an important case that could upend how elections are conducted across the country.
What’s at stake:
- The case involves a fringe legal theory called the “independent state legislature theory.”
- North Carolina state lawmakers used the theory in a bold attempt to dodge a landmark state court ruling that struck down their gerrymandered voting maps in a lawsuit filed by our North Carolina office
Here are five things to know about the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case, the so-called “independent state legislature theory,” and how Common Cause is defending our rights for a free and fair democracy where every vote counts.
1.) There’s no historical basis. The “independence state legislature theory” would reverse decades of legal precedent by taking away the ability of state courts to review whether state lawmakers followed the law when it comes to setting election policies. It’s akin to pulling the referee out of a game midway, and just hoping the players on the field stick to the rules.
The nation’s highest court, if it goes along with this long shot of a legal appeal, would also be contradicting itself. Just three years ago, in Rucho v. Common Cause, the Supreme Court pointed to state courts as the ones who should decide if partisan gerrymandering is permissible in the redistricting process. And in 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in an Arizona case that the court interpreted mention of “legislature” to include the entire legislative process, not just the state legislature itself.
2.) This decision could upend our nation’s election systems. U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) summed up the worst-case-scenario in a Congressional hearing about the “independent state legislature theory” held last week.
“Professional, nonpartisan election administration is a cornerstone of the modern American right to vote,” Lofgren said. “That entire apparatus could vanish overnight, at least for federal elections.”
Removing the ability of the state judiciary to review decisions regarding our federal elections, from voting maps to whether early voting hours should be extended or curtailed, will give partisan interests more ability to manipulate decisions to their liking.
Simply put, it would change how we’ve run elections in the United States for more than 200 years. Read more