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Supreme Court Requests More Briefs In North Carolina Election Case

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The Supreme Court has ordered North Carolina Republican leaders, the Biden administration, and voting rights groups to file additional briefs in a closely watched case as the 2024 presidential election looms.

In a brief order, the court called for the parties involved to file “supplemental letter briefs” addressing the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction over the case, given that the North Carolina Supreme Court has agreed to rehear the redistricting dispute at its center.

“On the one side of the legal fight is North Carolina Republican legislative leaders, and on the other side are voting rights groups, North Carolina voters, and state elections officials. The Justice Department backed voting rights groups in the case. The court set a deadline of March 20 for the additional filings to be submitted,” CBS News reported.

“The case before the Supreme Court, known as Moore v. Harper, stems from the redrawing of the congressional map by North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature after the 2020 Census. The state supreme court struck down the proposed voting boundaries as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander that violated the North Carolina Constitution,” the outlet added.

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The case is being closely watched as some warned that it could upend the 2024 presidential race.

“Conservative Supreme Court justices appeared skeptical about a state court’s decision to strike down Republican-drawn congressional districts in North Carolina, but it seemed unlikely a majority would embrace a broad theory that could upend election law nationwide. The appeal brought by North Carolina Republicans asks the court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, to embrace a hitherto obscure legal argument called the ‘independent state legislature theory,’ which could strip state courts of the power to strike down certain election laws enacted by state legislatures,” the New Yorker reported.

“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.’ 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,” the outlet added.

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“Backed by Republican leaders at the N.C. General Assembly, the crux of the argument is that they and all other state legislators should have much broader power to write election laws, with courts mostly not allowed to stop them by ruling their actions unconstitutional. They’ve been tight-lipped about the case since filing it this spring, mostly preferring to avoid commenting on it to reporters and instead doing their talking through legal briefs. Beyond redistricting the case also has the potential to change how North Carolina and the 49 other states handle everything from early voting and mail-in ballots rules to voter ID, recounts, post-election audits, and anything else that could possibly affect an election,” the outlet added.

During oral arguments in December, some of the Supreme Court justices appeared skeptical of fully endorsing the independent state legislature theory.

“Under the theory, pushed by North Carolina Republican leaders, the Constitution grants near-exclusive authority to state legislatures for setting federal elections rules, without oversight from state courts to ensure those laws comply with the constraints set by state constitutions,” CBS News reported.

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