SCOTUS Rejects Trump-Backed Election Theory, Deals Blow to Republican Lawmakers

On Tuesday the Supreme Court issued a rejection of a theory pushed by Republicans that could have fundamentally changed the country’s election process and allowed for unchecked gerrymandering of election maps.

In Moore v. Harper, Republican lawmakers asked the justices to reinstate North Carolina’s gerrymandered congressional map after the state’s Supreme Court struck it down, saying it violated the state’s constitution. At the center of the case was a legal concept known as the “independent state legislature” theory, which argues that the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures sole power to decide federal elections, free of oversight from state constitutions, courts, and governors.

The Supreme Court rejected the theory in a 6-3 decision, with Chief Justice John Roberts joined by conservative justices Brett Kavanauh and Amy Coney Barret and liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson in the majority.

“We are asked to decide whether the Elections Clause carves out an exception to this basic principle. We hold that it does not,” Roberts wrote. “The Elections Clause does not insulate state legislatures from the ordinary exercise of state judicial review.”

Louisiana Case Returned to Lower Courts

On Monday, the Supreme Court lifted a hold it placed on a lower court’s order for a reworked redistricting map in Louisiana. The Louisiana legislature passed the map in February 2022, but it was vetoed by Gov. John Bel Edwards. After voting to override the veto, the issue was challenged by Black voters and civil rights groups in two separate lawsuits.

U.S. District Court Judge Shelly Dick ruled that the way the map was drawn by Republicans violated the Voting Rights Act, and ordered the map redrawn. Dick had been considering a remdial congressional plan because Louisiana lawmakers have refused to pass a plan with a second majority-Black district when the Supreme Court’s hold on the case was issued.

“Louisiana can and should have a congressional map that represents our voting population, which is one-third Black,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said, praising the court’s decision to lift the hold on Monday. “As I have consistently stated, this is about simple math, basic fairness, and the rule of law. I am confident we will have a fair map in the near future.”

The Supreme Court ruled on a similar case in Alabama earlier this month, affirming a lower court’s decision that the Republican-drawn maps in that state violated the Voting Rights Act. 

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