No matter how it is ruled, the U.S. Supreme Court is debating a significant election case that will have a significant impact on the 2024 election.
The “independent state legislature theory” is a constitutional idea that is the center of the North Carolina case. Supporters contend that state legislatures have a significant amount of power to oversee the conduct of federal elections in their individual jurisdictions with little interference from state courts or governors.
The Moore v. Harper case, which particularly addresses the theory, is now being debated by the supreme court. There are worries that the court might not resolve the issue completely in time for the forthcoming 2024 elections.
According to The Washington Examiner:
Moore v. Harper features a dispute over North Carolina’s Supreme Court dismissing a GOP-backed apportionment plan for being too partisan.
Republicans filed a challenge to the high court, but then conservatives managed to regain control of the state Supreme Court. The now-5-2 Republican-majority court subsequently opted to rehear the redistricting case. The court scraped its prior ruling late last month, which was the underpinning of the Moore v. Harper case pending before the Supreme Court.
“The independent state legislature argument hinges on language in the Constitution that says election rules ‘shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof,’” NBC News reported. “Supporters of the theory, which has never been endorsed by the Supreme Court, say the language supports the notion that, when it comes to federal election rules, legislatures have ultimate power under state law, potentially irrespective of potential constraints imposed by state constitutions.”
During oral arguments, the three liberal justices of the court—Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson—appeared doubtful of the hypothesis.
“This is a proposal that gets rid of the normal checks and balances on the way big government decisions are made in this country,” Kagan said at the time.
NBC added in its report: “The independent state legislature theory has been embraced by supporters of former President Donald Trump, who cited it in various cases during the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath. The case, which could have a broad impact on an array of election issues, is being closely watched for its potential impact on the 2024 presidential election.”
Whether the Supreme Court will ultimately provide a conclusive ruling regarding the viability of the independent state legislature doctrine is now a matter of uncertainty.
In order to establish whether it still had jurisdiction over Moore v. Harper, the U.S. Supreme Court had already asked for more briefing documents. The request suggested that the justices were debating whether to rule on the matter or to dismiss it.
The court instructed the parties to submit “supplemental letter briefs” addressing the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction over the matter in a brief order.
The independent legislature hypothesis, according to its proponents, is founded on a literal reading of the Constitution’s election provision, which states that “The Times, Places, and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.”
Following the 2020 election, when several state courts and governors approved adjustments to voting procedures because of the COVID pandemic, a majority of conservative academics and organizations have stated that the case’s conclusion is crucial.
In an earlier interview with the Examiner, Jason Snead of the Honest Elections Project warned that if the theory were to be rejected, it may “leave the door wide open to the Left’s anti-democracy campaign, which has saturated the courts with politicized lawsuits and introduced chaos to our elections.”
However, leftist legal experts oppose any ruling by the supreme court.
“The letter my firm filed today in the dangerous Independent State Legislature theory case (Moore v. Harper) was short, sweet, and 100% correct. ‘The Harper Respondents believe there is no non-frivolous basis for jurisdiction here,’” tweeted Marc Elias, a well-known attorney who has worked on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and whose name was connected to the 2016 Clinton campaign.