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Supreme Court Hears Key Elections Law Case

North Carolinians and NCLCV stand up for checks and balances in our government and our elections before the US Supreme Court this week. NCLCV is again defending the right of voters to pick their own representatives instead.

The Court will hear the North Carolina cases consolidated under the title Moore v. Harper on Wednesday. The partisan leadership of the NC General Assembly has chosen this opportunity to argue that they have the unrestrained right to dictate election outcomes, irrespective of the will of the voters. If our unrestrained legislative leadership gets the Supreme Court’s green light, then our state faces the prospect of unchecked state legislative control by pro-polluter politicians. More than that, our nation will face risks to voting rights as extreme as rogue state legislatures which decide to ignore their own states’ voters in order to award their states’ electoral votes to a presidential candidate of the legislature’s choosing instead.

Why? In 2022, the NC Supreme Court ruled that extreme partisan gerrymandering of district lines violates the NC State Constitution. It ordered the legislature to redraw lines without that extreme gerrymandering. When the legislature failed to do so within the time deadline allowed, the Court adopted a fair and competitive map for Congressional elections. As a result of the new, fairer, competitive district map, North Carolina voters elected a Congressional delegation divided 7-7 between the Republican and Democratic parties. That’s a far more accurate reflection of the state’s evenly divided voter preferences than the 11-3 Republican-dominated Congressional delegation which would likely have resulted from the original legislature-drawn maps. 

However, the legislature’s champions of unchecked power made one final appeal—to the United States Supreme Court—and that Court decided to hear the case. Now, the champions of unilateral control are asking the US Supreme Court to adopt an equally extreme (and legally unprecedented) interpretation of the US Constitution, called the “independent state legislature theory.” 

Under that never-before-adopted theory, the legislature alone would have the power to draw district maps and write elections laws, without review or limitation of any kind at the state level. There would be no chance of vetoes by the governor of voter-suppression laws, and no right of the state courts to review the legislature’s actions on those or on legislative district maps. The historic and fundamental American doctrine of “checks and balances” between three co-equal branches of government essentially would cease to exist at the state level. State constitutions would be meaningless in any restraints they placed on the legislature to abuse the voting rights of the people.

In North Carolina, the power-hungry political clique running our state legislature would be free to undermine voting rights, rig voting maps, and manipulate elections to their permanent advantage. Our state could cease to be a functioning democracy. Those are the stakes of the case being heard this week at the Supreme Court. 

While the current leaders of North Carolina’s legislature who are seeking this extreme power are Republicans, this is not a partisan issue. The same dangerous level of unchecked legislative power would be granted to other state legislatures around the nation which are under Democratic control. Recognizing the level of threat to American democracy posed by this case, the bipartisan group of jurists representing the top state judicial officers across the United States, the Conference of Chief Justices, filed a brief in this case urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reject the North Carolina legislature’s request. 

NCLCV is partnering with other concerned citizen groups to bring this danger to the attention of the public, through a series of public media events in North Carolina on December 6 and Washington on December 7. 

Five press conference/rallies will take place in North Carolina this Tuesday and Wednesday, December 6 and 7, in the following cities (with details available through the corresponding links in Mobilize):

NCLCV supporters are encouraged to take part in one of these “People Over Politics” events near you. For those who are interested in hearing the attorneys’ arguments and Justices’ questions in this case, a live video feed of the case hearing is available here beginning at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

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