Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

From today’s CBS News:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a controversial theory that would have given state lawmakers unfettered power to set the rules for federal elections in their states, ruling that the so-called “independent state legislative theory” is inconsistent with the Constitution.

In declining to embrace the idea, which stems from an interpretation of the Constitution’s Elections Clause, the court left in place a key check on state lawmakers’ authority over how federal elections in their states are conducted and their drawing of congressional maps.

The decision is a major victory for voting rights advocates, who feared that a ruling adopting the independent legislature theory would wreak havoc on election systems, and allow state legislatures to operate unchecked when setting federal election rules and drawing voting lines.

Chief Justice John Roberts authored the opinion for the 6-3 majority in the case known as Moore v. Harper, which stems from a dispute in North Carolina. The court ruled that the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to review an opinion by the North Carolina Supreme Court against state Republican officials, and said the Constitution’s Elections Clause does not grant exclusive and independent authority in state legislatures to set the rules regarding federal elections.

“State courts retain the authority to apply state constitutional restraints when legislatures act under the power conferred upon them by the Elections Clause,” Roberts wrote. He was joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Ketanji Brown Jackson.

“The Elections Clause does not insulate state legislatures from the ordinary exercise of state judicial review,” Roberts wrote. The Elections Clause states: “the Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.”  

Though the court concluded that the clause “does not exempt state legislatures from the ordinary constraints imposed by state law,” Roberts noted that state courts “do not have free rein.” 

Read the complete story here.

By Editor