On Thursday, the Supreme Court ordered North Carolina Republican leaders, the Biden administration, and voting rights groups to provide more briefing regarding a case involving legislators’ ability to manipulate congressional district lines and set federal voting rules without oversight from federal courts.
The case, Moore v. Harper, involves the “independent state legislature theory,” which grants nearly unfettered authority to state legislatures setting federal elections rules. Moore v. Harper is now being reheard by the North Carolina Supreme Court. Supreme Court justices now want to know how a decision by the North Carolina Supreme Court could affect their proceedings.
After the 2020 census, North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature redrew the congressional map. Had the redrawn map been upheld, it likely would have given Republicans an advantage in 10 of the 14 districts, per The Washington Post.
Following the redrawing, the state’s supreme court, which had a Democratic majority at the time, struck down the proposal, saying it was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander that was in violation of the North Carolina Constitution, per The Washington Post. A new map created by three court-appointed experts was later approved by the court.
In February 2022, North Carolina Republican leaders asked the Supreme Court to intervene and block the use of the new congressional map. The Supreme Court declined, and one month later, North Carolina Republican leaders returned and asked whether state courts have the ability to change the “times, place, and manner” of federal elections with respect to the U.S. Constitution’s elections clause. Oral arguments for the case were heard by the Supreme Court in December 2022.
The North Carolina Supreme Court, which now has a Republican majority, decided on February 3 to revisit the underlying case. Oral arguments for the case are set to take place on March 14.
The Supreme Court has now requested briefings regarding the North Carolina Supreme Court’s upcoming decision and how it would impact the high court. A statement released by the Supreme Court asked, “What is the effect on this Court’s jurisdiction … [on] the North Carolina Supreme Court’s February 3, 2023 order granting rehearing and any subsequent state court proceedings?”
The Supreme Court requested that all briefs are sent to them by March 20, six days after oral arguments occur in the state Supreme Court on March 14. If the state Supreme Court reverses the decision, then the Supreme Court may choose not to hear the case at all, and a decision could come anytime after March 20.