Source: News & Observer
Mark this date on your calendar: Dec. 7, 2022. It’s the day that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Moore v. Harper federal elections case, which originated in North Carolina, and it could be the beginning of the end of democracy in the United States.
The “Moore” in the case is none other than North Carolina Republican House Speaker Tim Moore. He and his fellow Republican legislative leaders argue that the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures “exclusive authority” over elections. This is known as the “Independent State Legislature” theory, which many judicial experts have called a “fringe legal theory.”
The Independent State Legislature theory is not a well-known theory by most people outside of some legal and political circles, but whether a person understands it or not, American elections will see massive changes if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Moore.
Dozens of influential groups and political figures have submitted friend-of-the-court briefs regarding the case, which some legal experts have called “the death knell of democracy.”
Michael Luttig, “a former federal appellate judge with a long career at the top echelon of conservative legal circles,” and the person who told former Vice President Mike Pence that he had no authority to overturn the 2020 election, highlighted the importance of this case when he spoke with The News & Observer.
“This is the single-most important case on American democracy, and for American democracy, in the nation’s history,” Luttig said.
Luttig’s view on Moore v. Harper is one that is held by progressives and even many Republicans.
The American Bar Association, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, the Conference of Chief Justices and 20 U.S. senators are among those who have filed briefs in the case.
The case is so concerning that in late October, U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar filed briefs asking the Supreme Court to allow the U.S. government to join oral arguments against Moore.
In the brief, Prelogar said that if the court sides with North Carolina Republicans, it “would severely disrupt the administration of elections around the nation, forcing states to hold state and federal elections under different rules and flooding the federal courts—especially this Court—with new election challenges.”
The beginning of Moore v. Harper can be traced back to earlier this year when North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature lost a gerrymandering case at the state Supreme Court. The losing party – the Republicans – appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying that the ruling was “judicial activism of the most brazen kind,” an especially laughable claim from this particular group of right-wing extremists.
Moore and the NCGOP are arguing that state legislatures (like North Carolina’s) should have the full and final say when it comes to drawing congressional districts and creating voting rules.
North Carolina Republicans are saying that they, as legislators, have sole control over these decisions and that they have no accountability to any other branch of government, including state courts.
Essentially, if the Supreme Court rules in Moore’s favor, the Republican-controlled General Assembly could once again draw up racist, gerrymandered congressional districts that overwhelmingly benefit Republicans and wipe out the influence of minorities and Democrats and there’s nothing anyone anywhere could do about it.
In addition, Republicans would also have the power to make up basically any voting rules they want, like requiring a photo ID, cutting out early voting altogether, or even changing the rules so as to target only Black voters (or anyone else), and they would be well within their rights to do it and there’s not much that could be done to stop them.
In addition to those horrifying scenarios, a ruling in Moore’s favor could also potentially see state legislatures gain the power to overrule the will of the people when it comes to presidential elections.
Simply put, a win for Republicans would have absolutely massive impacts on redistricting, election rules and voting rights as a whole – and not just in North Carolina, but in any and every state where the legislature wants to have the same power as the one in North Carolina.
The Supreme Court’s ruling on the case is expected in 2023, likely in the summer.
Click here to read The News & Observer’s exploration of the case.