Last Friday, we and other pro-democracy groups and voters asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decline to hear state legislators’ challenge to North Carolina state court-ordered congressional district maps.
In their petition for the court to take up the case, legislative leaders Phil Berger and Tim Moore are asking justices to adopt an extreme and unprecedented interpretation of state legislatures’ powers. If adopted, this radical new constitutional theory could be extended to effectively eliminate voters’ ability to enforce state constitutional limits on state legislators’ power over map drawing, voting rights, and more. All state-created nonpartisan redistricting commissions or processes would be eliminated, and state courts and state constitutions would have no check on legislative power over our democracy.
Our brief opposing legislators’ petition argues the court has never understood or applied the U.S. Constitution’s Elections Clause that way in its long history, and that it has instead repeatedly recognized the people’s right to regulate federal elections through their own state constitutions, which state courts have the right to apply to voting procedures and redistricting. This is because “state legislatures owe their existence” to each state’s constitution, with its grants and limitations of legislative powers. And this same General Assembly has already used those powers to delegate to state courts the power to referee disputes over maps.
Similarly, fellow plaintiff Common Cause’s brief argues, “The US Constitution does not grant impunity to a state legislature for violations of its state constitution simply because the legislation relates to congressional elections.”
It’s unclear when the Supreme Court will consider legislators’ petition and announce whether it will hear the case or let the state Supreme Court’s decision stand. CIB will continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned. Click here to catch up on previous action in this case.
States would be forbidden to gerrymander congressional maps if the U.S. Senate joined the House in passing the Freedom to Vote Act. Tell your senators to take action here!