Supreme Court hears case relating to court election interference in states

5
772


By CASEY HARPER

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday heard oral arguments in Moore v. Harper, a case that could have major implications on state legislatures’ control of their elections free of federal interference.

In question in the case is the interpretation of part of Article I of the Constitution. Article I says that state legislatures have the authority to make rules around the “Times, Places and Manner” of congressional elections.

As The Center Square previously reported, Republican lawmakers in North Carolina argue in a brief to the court that “the text of the Elections Clause provides the answer: it assigns state legislatures the federal function of regulating congressional elections.”

The case began when North Carolina lawmakers created a new congressional district map that critics say was gerrymandered, a tactic commonly used by whichever party is in power to draw district lines so that the voting demographics in each district are divided up to help one party win more seats.

Democrats challenged the map in court, and eventually North Carolina’s state Supreme Court, which is majority Democrat, ruled against Republicans’ map. Special masters were tasked to draw maps used in the 2022 midterms, and their intent – also through use of gerrymandering – to produce a 7-7 split of Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House was achieved.

Now at the U.S. Supreme Court, attorneys for lawmakers argue the Constitution explicitly gives the power over elections to state legislatures, regardless of what the state courts rule.

The justices grilled both sides, with both liberal and conservative justices raising tough questions. 

“If the North Carolina decision is permitted to stand, state courts will usurp the prerogatives of state legislatures,” said Bartlett Cleland, counsel for ALEC, which filed an amicus brief in the case. “As stated by the U.S. Supreme Court just two years ago, ‘The Constitution provides that state legislatures – not federal judges, not state judges, not state governors, not other state officials – bear primary responsibility for setting election rules.'”

The ACLU took the opposite side, saying in a statement Wednesday that North Carolina “legislators are asking for the power to ignore their own state constitutions.”

“Our government is based on the idea that legislators and all government actors must act within the bounds of written constitutions created by the People,” ACLU said in a statement. “The Supreme Court must uphold the rule of law in our federal elections. Our democracy is at stake.”

Amy Howe, of SCOTUSBlog.com, wrote that the justices were not leaning toward the state legislature’s unfettered rights: “The Supreme Court on Wednesday signaled that it may not be ready to adopt a sweeping interpretation of the Constitution, known as the ‘independent state legislature’ theory, that would give state legislatures broad power to regulate federal elections without interference from state courts. Although some justices appeared receptive to that theory during nearly three hours of argument, it was not clear that there was a majority to endorse it, even as other justices focused on a narrower version of the theory that would preserve at least some role for state courts in enforcing state laws or the state constitution.”

Casey Harper is a senior reporter for the Washington, D.C. Bureau. He previously worked for The Daily Caller, The Hill, and Sinclair Broadcast Group. A graduate of Hillsdale College, Casey’s work has also appeared in Fox News, Fox Business, and USA Today.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Will we ever get past this. Everyone should wake up to the thought why do the politicians fight so hard to have a job that people hate them for it. It’s all about the power and money.

  2. It drives me nuts when a specific section of the Constitution (or anything for that matter) is mentioned but then not quoted. Why wouldn’t you quote it when you’ve referenced it?

    Article I Section 4
    The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

    The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

    Of course Article I Section 3 says:
    The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

    But that was amended by the 17th Amendment that says:
    The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.

    I’m not a fan of the 17th Amendment, since our country was designed as a Constitutional Republic and not a democracy. Having our state legislatures decided who our senators are is a better way to provide a senatorial representative than using a popular vote. Many people forget that the Senate was designed as a deliberative body to keep the whims of the day (the House of Representatives) in check.

    • I absolutely agree the 17th amendment should be repealed. When the people were duped into ratifying it, states lost all of their representation in the federal government. Passing the 17th was a fools endeavor.

    • Steve-O, Right on about the 17th! It needs to be repealed, Senators serve the States interests in Congress, the House is for the people, whether deliberative or not, US Senators should be selected by the State Legislatures. Naturally this system makes it tougher for a national special interest group to control a Senator, what with no re-election since they are appointed…

  3. The Constitution is clear on this matter. It should be a 9-0 decision I favor of states. But it won’t be.

Comments are closed.