Media briefing: how democracy will be protected in upcoming SCOTUS case

Washington, D.C., 1 December 2022 — Common Cause, Southern Coalition for Social Justice and global law firm Hogan Lovells held a media briefing Thursday, 1 December, outlining the legal arguments and strategy behind our fight to defend our democracy in Moore v. Harper. The U.S. Supreme Court case, stemming from the legal fight for fair maps in North Carolina, is scheduled for oral arguments at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 7 December.

This U.S. Supreme Court case involves a dangerous legal argument seeking to eliminate the checks and balances served by the state judiciary to allow state lawmakers to exercise nearly unchecked power to manipulate elections.

A brief was filed jointly by Common Cause, Rebecca Harper, and the League of Conservation Voters respondents in October describing how North Carolina lawmakers’ desperate and dangerous arguments in Moore are inconsistent with the text, structure, and history of the U.S. Constitution, and contradict centuries’ worth of well-established precedent. 

Common Cause’s National Redistricting Director Kathay Feng spoke about the potential consequences for voters around the country if political parties are able to manipulate voting maps and election rules.

“The U.S. Supreme Court will be deciding whether state legislatures should be given absolute and supreme power to create voting laws and redistricting maps for congressional elections without any checks from the state constitutions which define their power, or from judges who interpret those constitutions,” Feng said. 

North Carolina voters have faced repeated attempts in recent years to curtail their access to the ballot, and the state judiciary has played a key role in upholding the rights enshrined in the state’s constitution and laws, said Bob Phillips, the executive director for Common Cause North Carolina

“Redistricting lawsuits are as North Carolina as barbecue, tobacco fields and hot humid summer days, and we are arguably the state that litigates redistricting more than any other state,” Phillips said. “For North Carolina citizens there is no other recourse to seek relief from bad maps other than the courts.” 

The legal argument at the heart of Moore is a dangerous one, and goes against more than 200 years of legal precedent, said Allison Riggs, legal counsel in the case and voting rights chief counsel and co-executive director of Southern Coalition for Social Justice. She discussed the joint brief as well the filings of 47 amicus briefs from a wide range of bipartisan leaders and legal scholars.

“The Republican legislative leaders’ theory is essentially that the state Constitution is a meaningless piece of paper when it comes to protecting the rights of voters in federal elections,” Riggs said. “This is extreme, it is not supported, and would create a dangerous pathway, not just in North Carolina, but across the country.” 

Finally, media heard from Neal Katyal, a partner with Hogan Lovells who will be arguing on behalf of Common Cause and other non-government respondents. 

“This case is about checks and balances,” he said. “What kind of world is it in which state legislatures can do whatever the heck they want, when it comes to elections?” 

A recording of today’s media briefing is available here.

On Wednesday, reporters and the public can listen to audio of oral arguments scheduled to begin after the court gavels in at 10 a.m. through the Supreme Court’s website here.

A “Hands Off My Vote” rally hosted by Common Cause and Southern Coalition for Social Justice will begin at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in front of the Supreme Court. 

Representatives from Common Cause, SCSJ and Hogan Lovells will also be available for interviews following the legal proceedings.  


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