Judges record voting case that could alter voting – Boston News, Weather, Sports

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is taking a case that has the potential to fundamentally transform the elections to Congress and the presidency.

Judges on Wednesday will hear arguments about the power of state courts to strike down congressional districts drawn by the legislature for violating state constitutions.

North Carolina Republicans taking the case to the Supreme Court argue that a provision of the US Constitution known as the Election Clause gives state legislatures virtually complete control over the “time, place, and nature” of congressional elections, including new elections and cuts state courts from the proceedings.

Republicans are pushing a concept called the independent legislature theory, which has never before been adopted by the Supreme Court but has been cited approvingly by four conservative justices.

A sweeping decision could threaten hundreds of electoral laws, require separate rules for federal and state elections on the same ballot, and prompt new efforts to redefine congressional districts to maximize party advantage.

The court’s decision in the North Carolina case could also hint at how the judges would deal with another part of the constitution — which is out of the question in the current case — that gives lawmakers the power to decide how presidential elections are appointed. That provision, the Election Clause, has been central to efforts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election in several hard-fought states.

The North Carolina state Supreme Court has struck down districts drawn by Republicans who control the legislature because they heavily favored Republicans in the hard-fought state. The court-produced map used in last month’s congressional election showed a 7-7 split between Democrats and Republicans.

North Carolina is among six states where state courts have ruled in recent years that an overly partisan redistribution of congressional districts violated their constitutions. The others are Florida, Maryland, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

State courts have become the only legal forum for challenging congressional party cards since the Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that these lawsuits cannot be brought in federal courts.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the court and supported by four other conservative justices, found that state courts remained open. “Provisions in state statutes and state constitutions can provide standards and guidance for application by state courts,” Roberts wrote in a statement joined by Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas.

But Alito, Gorsuch and Thomas wrote in March that they allowed the Republican-drawn map to be used that year. Alito wrote for the three judges that “the powers of state courts to reverse actions by state legislatures when prescribing rules for the conduct of federal elections must be limited. I think it likely that the applicants would be able to show that the North Carolina Supreme Court exceeded those limits.”

Kavanaugh has written separately about the need for federal courts to oversee the actions of state courts in federal elections, citing a statement by three conservatives in the Bush v. Gore case, which settled the 2000 presidential election. Thomas was one of the three judges in that 22-year opinion, but the court decided the case on different grounds.

In North Carolina, Republican lawmakers don’t have to wait for the court’s decision to create a new congressional map that is expected to include more Republican counties.

Even as Democrats won half of the state’s 14 congressional seats, Republicans seized control of the state’s Supreme Court. Two newly elected Republican judges give them a 5-2 advantage, making it more likely the court would uphold a map with more Republican districts.

(Copyright (c) 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed.)

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https://whdh.com/news/justices-take-up-elections-case-that-could-reshape-voting/ Judges record voting case that could alter voting – Boston News, Weather, Sports

Sarah Y. Kim

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