Supreme Court rules state legislature decisions about election maps can be overruled by judiciary

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The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed on Tuesday that state legislatures do not possess unchecked power to establish election laws when federal elections are at stake.

The court’s 6-3 decision, with Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. delivering the majority opinion, emphasized that state courts have the authority to review and supervise state laws governing federal elections.

The ruling comes as a rejection of the legal doctrine known as the “independent state legislature theory.” In Moore v. Harper, the Supreme Court ruled 6–3 that the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution does not give state legislatures sole power over elections, thus rejecting the independent state legislature theory.

The case before the Supreme Court involved a congressional map in North Carolina that had been decided by a court to have been partisan gerrymandered. The court upheld the North Carolina Supreme Court’s decision to set aside the map.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the Constitution’s elections clause does not shield state legislatures from state judicial review.

“The Constitution’s text makes clear that state legislatures possess authority to prescribe electoral regulations,” wrote Roberts. “But that authority does not insulate state legislatures from the ordinary exercise of state judicial review.”

The ruling is expected to have implications beyond North Carolina and could impact the authority of state courts to review election laws across the states. It strengthens the judicial branch of government getting involved in partisan politics.

Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch dissented from the majority opinion.

21 COMMENTS

    • Except for the fact, that the Alaska Judicial Council, is both rigged and corrupt, and quite smug about it, to boot.

    • While I agree with the ruling that the court can oversee the legislative process, I would have liked the SCOTUS to address the real issue with what happened in NC (and AK). The NC Supreme Court shot down the legislative map and then enforced a different (unapproved) version. That is beyond the courts per view and needs to be reigned in.

  1. Good. Separation of powers means the legislature doesn’t get plenary powers over the entire process. This is good for both parties, especially as politics become more partisan. If you are a republican, imagine if this ruling didn’t happen and a democrat majority legislature had pure unchecked power to decide elections. If you are a democrat imagine the inverse. Allowing the power to be separated and not consolidated by a single body serves the people. And no, this doesn’t consolidate all the power into the judiciary, it allows the judiciary to function when it’s called upon to function.

    • You’re contradicting yourself. You are saying separation of powers means another branch can get involved with a power and area of responsibility of another branch’s that is clearly separated in the Constitution.

      Redistricting is a partisan affair, like it or not. Except when the elections didn’t go the Democrats’ way, they run to the courts to try to stop Republicans from lawfully executing their right to redistrict as they see fit.

      • Wrong. This belies a fundamental misunderstanding of the term separation of power. It is the power itself that is separated, not the branches which must work together.

        A bill is written in the legislature, signed by the executive, and if challenged deemed constitutional or not by the judicial.

        All three work together because the power is separated between them. If the executive vetoes the senate has a condition by which they can overrule, if the legislative and the executive both get out of hand, the judicial can overrule. If the judicial gets out of hand, the combined legislature can amend the constitution which the judicial must follow.

        Remember, the power is separated, not the judicial. This means to get stuff done we have to work together. No single branch may decide for all.

  2. Imagine the leftist Legislature having total “dominion” over our elections. That’s what we just dodged.

  3. Probably a good, if unsatisfying ruling. If the requested relief was enforced, it would probably erase the GOP House advantage.

    Such as it is.

  4. The word “national” “became” a noun in 1878. What did we have before that? Clown suits do not have more power than “we, the people”. Logic and reason. We ate separate from “the Vatican”. They just want to decide who gets busted for fake thought “crimes”. So who is “their” standing body of men? SNITTZIES?

  5. After Eastman, Gableman, Giuliani et al get disbarred for promoting sedition, attention seeking lawyers will think twice about contesting the 2024 elections.

  6. SCOTUS was defending its turf, the ability to make things up and call them constitutional. In doing so, they ignore the very clear clause of the US Constitution that puts legislatures in charge of elections. For some reason, the courts – none of them, including the SCOTUS – are mentioned. My guess if they let the ability of the courts to meddle in elections get away from them, there will be other things they will no longer be able to meddle in.

    Bad news is the opinion. Good news is that it is the start of the discussion. Like abortion, it will eventually be shoved back down to the state legislatures to deal with. Cheers –

    “Article I, Section 4, Clause 1: 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.”

  7. It is sometimes a play on the unpopular, appropriated term nazi who are rampant among the castled monarchs among other stupid , perhaps patented ideas. Low brow did not “get” me. Not even close.

  8. Oh the irony. You cull yourself an Irishman and you don’t know what a sprat is. “Jack Sprat could eat no fat and his wife could eat no lean”.

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