Dec 7, 2022 - News

U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on a major NC elections case

Illustration of a hand crushing a ballot.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

All eyes are once again on North Carolina Wednesday, as the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in one of the highest profile cases of its term: Moore v. Harper.

Driving the news: That's Moore as in North Carolina Republican House Speaker Tim Moore, who, along with other leaders of the state's Republican-controlled General Assembly, argues that state legislatures — and only state legislatures — are in charge of federal elections.

Why it matters: The impact of the justices' ruling later this summer may be felt far beyond North Carolina as early as in the 2024 election cycle.

  • If the 6-3 conservative majority sides with Republicans, it could grant state lawmakers across the country far more power over elections and voting.
  • In its broadest interpretation, the legislative theory North Carolina Republicans have centered their arguments on says that courts, governors and state elections boards do not have any authority over elections.

Catch up quick: The case stems from the congressional map the Republican-led legislature drew in 2020, which the state Supreme Court later struck down, saying it an illegal partisan gerrymander.

The big picture: This isn't the first time North Carolina Republicans have presented arguments to the U.S. Supreme Court defending election-related legislation or political maps.

  • Some of the most significant rulings surrounding how political maps can be drawn have come out of North Carolina, as both parties here have battled in the past decade.

The other side: Democrats argue that the most extreme interpretation of the theory could easily become reality.

  • "This view would leave no room for oversight by state courts and put the ability of governors to veto election-related legislation in doubt," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said in a New York Times essay published Tuesday.
  • "If the court endorses this doctrine, it would give state legislatures sole power over voting laws, congressional redistricting and potentially even the selection of presidential electors and the proper certification of election winners."

What's next: The court is expected to unveil its ruling in the case this summer, and its final decision may not have as sweeping of an impact as Democrats predict.

  • Regardless of the outcome, North Carolina Republicans will redraw the state's congressional districts, which the state Supreme Court ordered the legislature to do after the 2022 election.
  • With Republicans in control of the legislature, the party could reconfigure the maps in a way that will give the party more of an advantage in 2024.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to show that oral arguments begin Wednesday, not Tuesday.


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