Supreme Court: State Lawmakers Do Not Have Exclusive Control over Elections

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that state lawmakers do not have exclusive control when it comes to how federal elections are carried out.

In the key decision, the SCOTUS ruled Tuesday that judges do have the power to override state legislatures regarding elections.

At issue in Moore v. Harper was a constitutional dispute over the power of state courts to regulate federal elections.

In this case, the ruling regarded gerrymandered redistricting maps.

Some state lawmakers were seeking a favorable interpretation of the “independent state legislature” (ISL) theory.

Legislators were asking for near-total control over the regulation of federal elections for president and members of Congress.

The case went to the High Court after a North Carolina state court threw out GOP-drawn congressional maps first submitted in November 2021.

The maps were deemed unconstitutional by a majority Democrat State Supreme Court.

The GOP maps seemingly give the Republican-led legislature an advantage in the state’s 14 congressional districts.

The court-drawn maps were ultimately used in the state’s midterm elections, producing seven seats for each party.

The GOP state legislature is arguing that the use of the court-drawn maps is a violation of the General Assembly’s constitutional right per the elections clause.

Republicans asked the Supreme Court to invoke the ISL doctrine.

ISL hinges on the interpretation of the Constitution to mean that state legislatures have “plenary” or unqualified authority to decide how elections are conducted, absent almost any state judicial review.

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Article 1 of the Constitution reads, “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.”

GOP advocates argue the case could have implications on the security of elections nationwide, as a decision siding with the North Carolina Supreme Court could give additional authority to state and federal courts to intervene in future election proceedings. 

But many on the other side of the aisle viewed the independent state legislature doctrine as too broad.

They argue that the end result could negatively affect democracy as a whole and open the door to further gerrymandering in a political climate with low voter trust.

READ MORE: Investigation Exposes ‘Critical Vulnerabilities’ in 2020 Election Voting Machines

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By Frank Bergman

Frank Bergman is a political/economic journalist living on the east coast. Aside from news reporting, Bergman also conducts interviews with researchers and material experts and investigates influential individuals and organizations in the sociopolitical world.

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