Thursday, March 23, 2023

Justices set to hear election case pressed by GOP

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) — The Supreme Court is set to take on a new election case being pressed by Republicans that could increase the power of state lawmakers in Congress and the race for president, as well as equalize state courts. can make out. ,

This problem has arisen repeatedly in the cases of North Carolina and Pennsylvania.Where Democratic majorities in the states’ supreme courts have called for voting security in their state formations to thwart plans for Republican-dominated legislatures.

Already, four conservative Supreme Court justices have noted their interest in deciding whether state courts, finding violations of their state constitutions, can order changes to federal elections and Congress. Can order the rescheduling of districts of one-decade. The Supreme Court has never applied what is known as the independent state legislature principle.However, three judges took it forward in the Bush v. Gore case that settled the 2000 presidential election.

“This issue will continue to arise until the court definitively resolves it,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in March.

Only four out of nine judges are required to agree to hear a case. A final decision requires a majority of five.

Many election law experts are concerned about the possibility that judges may try to curtail the powers of state courts over elections.

“A ruling favoring a strong or muscular reading of the independent state legislature doctrine would potentially provide a path for litigation to curtail state legislatures’ voting rights and overturn election results that express the will of the people. ” Law professor Richard Hassan wrote in an email.

But if judges are going to be involved, Hassan said, “it makes sense for the court to do so in the context of an election with national implications.”

The court may say Tuesday or perhaps next week whether it will hear an appeal filed by North Carolina Republicans. The appeal challenges a state court’s decision that excluded congressional districts drawn by the General Assembly, which made GOP candidates likely winners in 10 of the state’s 14 congressional districts.

The North Carolina Supreme Court held that the limits violated provisions of the state constitution that protect free elections and freedom of speech and association by handicapping voters who support Democrats.

The new map that finally emerged and is being used this year gives Democrats a good chance of winning six seats, and possibly a seventh in a new toss-up district.

Pennsylvania’s top court also selected a map that Republicans say will probably lead to the election of more Democrats, as both parties battle for control of the US House in midterm elections in November. An appeal from Pennsylvania is also waiting if the court for some reason passes on the North Carolina case.

At the national level, the parties fought to a draw in redistribution.That leaves Republicans in a position to win control of the House, even if they fall short of securing a majority of the national vote.

If the GOP does well in November, the party could seize seats on state supreme courts, including North Carolina, which could allow it to paint more tilted maps rejected by previous courts. North Carolina has ballots this year in two court seats held by Democrats and Republicans need to win just one to take control of the court for the first time since 2017.

In their appeal to the nation’s High Court, North Carolina Republicans wrote that it is time the Supreme Court weighed in on the election clause in the US Constitution, which gives each state’s legislature the responsibility to determine the “time, place, and manner”. . Regarding the conduct of Congress elections.

North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger said when filing the appeal in March, “Acting judges and affiliated plaintiffs have repeatedly proven that they believe state courts have the final say on the Congressional map, Whatever the US Constitution says.”

The Supreme Court generally does not disturb state court decisions enshrined in state law.

But four Supreme Court justices – Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Kavanaugh – have said the court should take steps to decide whether state courts unfairly abuse the powers granted to state lawmakers by the US Constitution. taken from.

This was the argument that Thomas and two other conservative justices put forward in Bush v. Gore, although that case was decided on other grounds.

If the court takes the North Carolina case and rules in the GOP’s favor, North Carolina Republicans could map out new maps for the 2024 election over concerns that the state’s Supreme Court will kill them.

Defenders of state court participation argue that state lawmakers would also have the power to pass provisions that would suppress voting, only subject to challenge in federal courts. Some scholars said that delegating power to election boards and secretaries of state to manage federal elections in an emergency could also be legally questioned.

“Its adoption will fundamentally change our elections,” both Ethan Herrenstein and Tom Wolf with the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program at New York University Law School wrote earlier this month.


Robertson reported from Raleigh, North Carolina.

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