Heritage Expert: Supreme Court Fails to Uphold Constitutional Provision Protecting State Legislatures

Heritage Expert: Supreme Court Fails to Uphold Constitutional Provision Protecting State Legislatures

Jun 27, 2023 1 min read

WASHINGTON—In today’s Moore v. Harper decision, the U.S. Supreme Court wrongly dismissed the North Carolina Legislature’s claim that its state Supreme Court unlawfully interfered with the Legislature’s authority when the state court substituted its own redistricting plan for the Legislature’s 2021 redistricting plan for the U.S. House seats. 

Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow Hans von Spakovsky released the following statement:   

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling allows partisan state supreme courts to reject congressional redistricting plans drafted by state legislatures and other procedures for federal elections that legislatures have implemented.  


“Although the U.S. Constitution gives the authority to state legislatures, not to state courts, to draw the maps for federal congressional elections, the Supreme Court today upheld the North Carolina Supreme Court’s decision that this authority could be overridden by judges misinterpreting the state’s constitution.  


“Under Article I of the U.S. Constitution, such congressional redistricting plans, as well as other ‘Times, Places and Manner’ procedures for federal elections, can be altered or overridden by Congress. State legislatures are subject to other federal laws such as the Voting Rights Act that are implemented to enforce provisions of the Constitution such as the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.  


“The Supreme Court erred by holding that state courts have the authority to draw up boundaries for congressional districts or change election procedures for federal elections—essentially replacing elected representatives. Worse, the decision is based on nebulous arguments that election maps and procedures violate state constitutional provisions, when those provisions are vague and allow legislatures considerable leeway. 


“While the Supreme Court said that such decisions by state courts remain subject to federal court review, as Justice Clarence Thomas predicts in his dissent, this decision will lead to chaos and confusion and will swell federal courts with ‘quickly evolving, politically charged controversies and federal election disputes.”