On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled against a legal theory that would have given state legislatures largely unchecked power to regulate federal elections.
According to CBS News, the 6-3 majority in the Moore v. Harper case ruling found that the Supreme Court had a right to review an opinio from the North Carolina Supreme Court dealing with jurisdiction over election policies. It also ruled that state legislatures did not have exclusive authority to implement rules around federal elections.
Moore v. Harper was a dispute over aa voting map drawn by North Carolina State Legislature, The New York Times reports. Experts said the map would give Republicans an unfair advantage, creating a situation where the state would be represented by 10 Republicans and four Democrats.
North Carolina’s Supreme Court rejected the argument that they were not allowed to review the map made by the state legislature. They ruled that the map could not be used in the 2022 elections. Republicans asked the Supreme Court to intervene but the Supreme Court rejected the request.
Republicans again appealed to the Supreme Court arguing that the court in North Carolina could not interfere with election rules create by the legislature. They based their argument on the elections clause, which, according to the New York Times, says, “The times, places and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof.”
In its majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court argued that state courts were still allowed a constitutional check election policies from the state legislature.
“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, according to CBS News.
“The Elections Clause does not insulate state legislatures from the ordinary exercise of state judicial review,” he added.
Roberts’ opinion was supported by Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Ketanji Brown Jackson.
APIA Vote, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering Asian American voters, praised the decision.
“Congressional maps should empower voters, not politicians. Additionally, branches of government should run on checks and balances, not unilateral decree. We are thankful the U.S. Supreme Court agrees and rejected the radical independent state legislature theory that threatened to roll back our democracy,” Christine Chen, Executive Director of Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote, said in a press statement.
Chen noted, however, that voter’s rights are still under attack across the country.
“While democracy won today, we are not out of the woods yet. State legislatures across the country continue to attack voting rights, bad actors continue to circulate conspiracy theories about our elections systems, and gerrymandering continues to persist nationwide. Our mission to empower Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders relies on our democracy working well. We must continue to advocate for state and federal legislation that protects, strengthens, and expands our democracy,” Chen said.
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