The Supreme Court will take up a case from North Carolina next term that could upend federal elections by eliminating virtually all oversight of those elections by state courts. On Thursday, the justices granted review in Moore v. Harper, a dispute arising from the state’s efforts to draw new congressional maps in response to the 2020 census. The doctrine at the heart of the case is known as the “independent state legislature” theory – the idea that, under the Constitution, only the legislature has the power to regulate federal elections, without interference from state courts. Proponents of the theory point to the Constitution’s elections clause, which gives state legislatures the power to set the “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives.”
For more than a year now, with tacit and explicit support from their party’s national leaders, state Republican operatives have been building an apparatus of election theft. Elected officials in Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states have studied Donald Trump’s crusade to overturn the 2020 election. They have noted the points of failure and have taken concrete steps to avoid failure next time. Some of them have rewritten statutes to seize partisan control of decisions about which ballots to count and which to discard, which results to certify and which to reject. They are driving out or stripping power from election officials who refused to go along with the plot last November, aiming to replace them with exponents of the Big Lie. They are fine-tuning a legal argument that purports to allow state legislators to override the choice of the voters (emphasis added).