The Independent State Legislature theory rejected by Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Rejects Independent State Legislature Theory in North Carolina Congressional Map Case
The Supreme Court has ruled that the North Carolina Supreme Court did not violate the elections clause of the US Constitution when it invalidated the state’s 2022 congressional map. In doing so, the court rejected a broad version of a controversial legal theory pushed by supporters of former President Donald Trump. The case had captured national attention because Republican lawmakers in North Carolina were asking the justices to adopt a long-dormant legal theory and hold that state courts and other state entities have a limited role in reviewing election rules established by state legislatures when it comes to federal elections.
Role of State Courts in Congressional Redistricting
The North Carolina controversy arose after the state Supreme Court struck down the state’s 2022 congressional map as an illegal partisan gerrymander, replacing it with court-drawn maps that favored Democrats. After the state high court ruled, North Carolina Republican lawmakers appealed the decision to the US Supreme Court, arguing that the state Supreme Court had exceeded its authority.
They relied upon the Elections Clause of the Constitution that provides that rules governing the “manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives” must be prescribed in “each state by the legislature thereof.” Under the independent state legislature theory, the lawmakers argued, state legislatures should be able to set rules with little to no interference from the state courts.
Supreme Court Decision and Its Significance
The Supreme Court rejected the lawmakers’ theory that state courts could not police federal election rules. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the 6-3 opinion, allowing that federal courts can have some role supervising state courts in certain circumstances, with Roberts writing that “state courts do not have free rein.” The court’s ruling will have ramifications for the future of elections nationwide.
Former President Barack Obama said the case had the potential to “dismantle our system of checks and balances.” “This ruling is a resounding rejection of the far-right theory that has been peddled by election deniers and extremists seeking to undermine our democracy,” Obama said in a statement.
Dissenting Opinion and Reaction
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissent, joined in full by Justice Neil Gorsuch and in part by Justice Samuel Alito, arguing that the court should have dismissed the case as moot, given how circumstances around the case evolved after the justices heard it. Thomas accused the majority opinion of opening “a new field for Bush-style controversies over state election law – and a far more uncertain one.”
The court’s ruling was praised by a large swath of voting rights attorneys, including the lawyers who represented the voters who had challenged the North Carolina redistricting map and who opposed the independent state legislature theory in court. North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, who was pressing the Supreme Court to adopt the independent state legislature theory, noted in a statement Tuesday the win his side had secured at the state Supreme Court when it reversed its previous ruling this year and upheld the map the legislature had drawn.
Read More of this Story at www.cnn.com – 2023-06-27 19:42:00
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