Jun 30, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court will hear case on states’ power in federal elections

Picture of the Supreme Court.
Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The Supreme Court said Thursday it will hear a case next term that examines a legal theory that would grant state legislatures significantly more power over federal elections.

Why it matters: The decision could allow state legislatures to set the rules for federal elections — even if they result in partisan gerrymandering or violate state constitutions, the Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: The case concerns a map drawn by North Carolina's Republican-led legislature that was rejected by the state's supreme court for partisan gerrymandering and violating the state constitution.

  • Republican lawmakers argued that the state court lacked the authority to reject the map under a legal theory called the independent state legislature doctrine.
  • The theory stems from the U.S. Constitution’s election clause, which says: "The times, places and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof."
  • The state supreme court rejected Republicans' arguments and said that it would be “repugnant to the sovereignty of states, the authority of state constitutions and the independence of state courts, and would produce absurd and dangerous consequences.”

The big picture: The independent state legislature doctrine would grant lawmakers power over redistricting, but also other election procedures, including voting by mail, per the Post.

What to watch: The Supreme Court is set to hear the case next term, which begins in October.

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