The future of who controls elections is up for debate in a Supreme Court case.
It started as a dispute over gerrymandering in North Carolina. When the state Supreme Court ruled against a map drawn by the state legislature, Republicans were upset and took the issue to the Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, justices began hearing arguments in the case.
A crowd of advocates was outside of the court to show their support for the status quo.
“There’s a great cross section of Americans here who are fed up with Republican legislatures trying to hijack the constitution, trying to ignore the will of the voters,” Aaron Scherb with Common Cause said.
Right now, state courts across the country regularly weigh in on election issues. However, North Carolina Republicans are arguing that the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures sole power over how elections are run.
Virginia Kase Solomon, CEO of the League of Women Voters, says if the justices side with the lawmakers that would eliminate a crucial check on the legislature.
“What it would do is allow state legislators to change the outcome of elections. It would make them kind of the supreme power,” Kase Solomon said.
North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore argues that the voters elected lawmakers so that they could make important decisions, like how to conduct elections.
“At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be up to judges or bureaucrats. It should be up to the people through their elected representatives in the legislature,” Moore said.
While they listened to both sides the justices on the court seemed split.
“This is a proposal that gets rid of the normal checks and balances on the way big governmental decisions are made,” Justice Elena Kagan said.
“Do you think that it furthers democracy to transfer the political controversy about districting from the legislature to elected supreme courts?” Justice Samuel Alito said.
Some worry that if the justices rule with the Republicans it will weaken the voice of voters across the country by allowing legislatures more power to do things like choose partisan voting districts or making it harder for people to cast ballots.
“This would change elections, and not for the better so people need to be paying attention,” Kase Solomon said.
The Latest from the League
The League of Women Voters and Fair Elections Center released the following statements after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the Moore v. Harper case.
LWV of the United States and League chapters from all 50 states and DC filed an amicus brief in the Moore v. Harper case before the Supreme Court. The case concerns the so-called “independent state legislature theory” (ISLT), which, if adopted, would have far-reaching implications for the future of American democracy.
A dangerous theory known as the “independent state legislature doctrine" argues that state legislatures have unconditional power to legislate on election issues and cannot be reviewed by any established checks and balances.