By Anthony Noto
State courts “do not have free rein.”
That’s according to Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. who struck down a Conservative-backed legal theory that would have transformed how federal elections are conducted.
The theory would have allowed state legislatures unchecked power to draft new rules on federal elections and partisan gerrymandering.
The Constitution, Roberts wrote, “does not exempt state legislatures from the ordinary constraints imposed by state law.”
The Supreme Court vote was 6-3 in the case of Moore v. Harper, with conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch dissenting. For the full document, authored by Roberts, click here.
The decision makes it more difficult for a dominant political party to gerrymander district voting maps to maintain control of the seats.
This decision came at a time that the Supreme Court case was ruled against North Carolina Republican Party.
For example, recall how former President Donald Trump wanted Republican state lawmakers to challenge the law and appoint electors in his favor, instead of President Joe Biden who won the 2020 election. Trump and his supporters were unsuccessful.
Yet, many worried whether the Supreme Court would support the claim that state legislatures had “independent” authority over elections. If it did, GOP lawmakers might select a slate of Republican electors even if the Democratic candidate won in a close race.
Such was the case in North Carolina with the Moore v. Harper lawsuit. Republican state legislators manipulated a voting map that would have given the GOP a significant advantage in 10 of the state’s 14 districts for electing U.S. representatives.
Today, Roberts — along with Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Bret Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Ketanji Brown Jackson — rejected those efforts.
Speaker of the House for the North Carolina Tim Moore put out a statement regarding the case:
“Today the United States Supreme Court has determined that state courts may rule on questions of state law even if city has an impact on federal election laws. Ultimately, the question of the role of state courts in congressional redistricting needed to be settled, and this discission has done just that. I am proud of the work we did to pursue this case to the national’s highest court.”
Produced in association with Benzinga
Edited by Alberto Arellano and Joseph Hammond
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