The Supreme Court of the United States announced at the end of June that it would hear an election law case next term, which could have a drastic effect on how federal elections are conducted.
The Moore v. Harper case, which the court will likely hear this fall, involves the “independent state legislature theory,” which argues that state courts cannot overrule state legislatures when it comes to voting. Advocates of former President Donald Trump have tried to use the theory to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, pushing to leave election outcomes to state legislatures, many of which Republicans control.
“It's a really dubious political theory,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. Rose explained that the theory would take away a form of checks and balances between state legislatures and courts.
Moore v. Harper involves the North Carolina legislature’s new congressional district boundaries, which the state supreme sourt said violated the state consitituion due to both political and racial gerrymandering. Republicans want the ruling overturned, and four conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court have previously expressed their support for the theory.
Legal analysts and advocates worry that the outcome of this case could make it easier for states to overturn the results of elections.
“It's really a tremendously fragile time for our democracy and time for all of us to pay attention,” Rose said. “We need to think not in two-year terms, but in 10-year terms, because that's what the Republicans did when they started to build this at the state legislative level back in 2010.”
Rose said that planning starts locally.
“Here in Massachusetts, we have to take steps to strengthen our democracy, because when all these other states begin to fall, we are going to be a haven for so many people who want to still live in a democracy,” she said.