OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The U.S. Supreme Court is considering an election case involving North Carolina that will have a major impact on the 2024 election regardless of how the court rules.
The case revolves around a constitutional concept known as the “independent state legislature theory.” Backers argue that state legislatures possess considerable authority in the administration of federal elections within their respective states, with limited oversight from state courts or even governors.
The high court is currently deliberating on the case of Moore v. Harper, which specifically addresses the theory. However, there are concerns the court may not reach a comprehensive resolution on the matter in time for the upcoming 2024 elections.
The Washington Examiner reports:
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.
“Should the high court fail to weigh in on the issue, state legislatures may feel emboldened to have free reign with gerrymandering, election integrity laws, and more, likely drawing major legal challenges,” the Examiner noted further.
Left-leaning election watchdog group Common Cause argued the Independent State Legislature theory “calls into question hundreds of state constitutional provisions” and that “the dispute over that theory must be resolved in time to prepare maps, ballots, and election rules well in advance of the 2024 elections.”
Common Cause argues that the theory “implicates fundamental questions of self-governance and our constitutional structure” and that the Independent State Legislature theory “has contributed to growing public doubt about the lawfulness and integrity of federal elections.”
Supporters of the independent legislature theory say that it’s based on a strict interpretation of the Constitution’s elections clause: “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.”
Mostly conservative experts and organizations have said the outcome of the case is vitally important in the wake of the 2020 election when a number of state courts and governors signed off on changes to voting procedures due to the COVID pandemic.
Jason Snead of the Honest Elections Project previously told the Examiner that a ruling discounting the theory could “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.”
In a separate case, the North Carolina Supreme Court issued an explosive ruling last month allowing Republicans in the state to redraw congressional lines in a way that will heavily favor the GOP.
Republicans could potentially pick up four more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after North Carolina’s state Supreme Court ruled in its favor, Politico reported.
North Carolina Supreme Court rules in favor of allowing Republicans to redraw the state’s congressional lines in a way that heavily favors the GOP.
This sets up a process that allows national Republicans to expand their majority in the U.S. House by as many as 4 seats.
— Patriot Alerts (@alerts___) April 28, 2023
“The current map, which was installed after the state Supreme Court struck down a legislature-passed map, could lead to the Republicans picking up as many as four House seats in 2024. The state Supreme Court now holds a conservative majority after elections last fall, and the court recently agreed to revisit its prior decision,” the Washington Examiner previously reported.
“North Carolina’s 14 House seats are currently evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, but the previously enacted map, struck down by the court, would have likely set up the GOP with as many as 11 seats. One expert told Reuters it would not be a surprise if the old map was reinstated instead of an entirely new map being formulated. Early projections for the 2024 House races from the Cook Political Report show the GOP with an advantage, with the likely installation of new Republican-friendly maps in North Carolina and Ohio playing a role in the early projection. Republicans currently hold a narrow 221-212 majority in the House of Representatives after taking back control of the chamber in 2022 despite underperforming in most key races nationwide,” the outlet added in its report from February.