Supreme Court Puts a Big Case on Next Term's Docket

It could profoundly affect federal elections
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2022 2:18 PM CDT
Supreme Court Puts a Big Case on Next Term's Docket
Women in sunhats look at the Supreme Court Thursday, June 30, 2022, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Supreme Court's monumental term is over, and the one that begins in October just had a potentially big case added to the docket. The New York Times and the Washington Post describe it in strikingly similar terms: The court "will consider what would be a radical change in the way federal elections are conducted," per the Times, while Post says it "could radically reshape how federal elections are conducted." The issue revolves around how much sway state legislatures should have when it comes to those federal elections. The case in question is out of North Carolina, where the Republican-controlled legislature redrew the state's congressional districts in way that would have likely resulted in 10 GOP victors in the state's 14 districts, per the AP.

North Carolina's highest court tossed out the maps, saying they violated the state constitution. North Carolina Republicans then sued, arguing the state court had no right to do so in part because of the "elections clause" in the US Constitution, which they say gives state legislatures sole responsibility for setting the terms of federal elections. While this "independent state legislature doctrine" typically comes into play in regard to redistricting, the Post and the AP note that it could affect other election-related issues, including voting by mail, voter identification, and even the selection of electors who choose the president.

“If the language of the Elections Clause is taken seriously, there must be some limit on the authority of state courts to countermand actions taken by state legislatures when they are prescribing rules for the conduct of federal elections,” wrote Samuel Alito in March, in an opinion joined by Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch. “I think it is likely that the applicants would succeed in showing that the North Carolina Supreme Court exceeded those limits.” However, the overall court at the time let the state ruling stand, with Brett Kavanaugh making the case the court should steer clear in an election year. However, he agreed the court should consider the matter in the future, and the court decided on Thursday to take it up next term. The case is Moore v. Harper. (More US Supreme Court stories.)

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