U.S. Supreme Court rejects dangerous attempt to destroy democracy

U.S. Supreme Court rejects dangerous attempt to destroy democracy

Press releases | 27 June 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court handed voters a major victory today with their ruling that state courts can review — and rectify — election-related rules and voting maps passed by state legislatures.

The ruling in Moore v. Harper  is a major victory for voters, given the potential the case had to shatter the checks and balances that serve as underpinnings of American democracy. By rejecting the reckless “independent state legislature theory” at the heart of the case, the Court extinguished partisan legislative attempts to manipulate election rules and voting maps without facing the checks and balances served by the state courts and governors.  

The Supreme Court’s decision is here

Statement from Kathay Feng, Common Causes Vice President of Programs: 

“Today’s ruling is a victory for all Americans who stand for our democracy’s promise of free and fair elections. Now Congress must act and pass long overdue protections for voters, so that we can put an end once and for all to the persistent attempts to undermine and restrict our right to vote.” 

Statement from Bob Phillips, Common Cause North Carolina’s executive director:

“This is a historic victory for the people of North Carolina and for American democracy. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court made clear that state courts and state constitutions should serve as a critical check against abuses of power by legislators. Now, we must ensure our state courts fulfill their duty to protect our freedoms against attacks by extremist politicians.”

Statement from Hilary Harris Klein, Senior Counsel for Voting Rights at SCSJ

"The Supreme Court took an important and crucial step today in protecting our system of checks and balances. Today’s decision will ensure that voters will continue to have the full protection of state constitutions against harmful and anti-democratic voter suppression and election manipulation."

Statement from Hogan Lovells partner Neal Katyal:

“I am proud to stand with Common Cause, the leading nonpartisan group in our nation devoted to protecting the right to vote. As we argued to the Supreme Court, the independent state legislature theory was contrary to precedent and would have called into question hundreds of state constitutional provisions and decisions. Today’s ruling affirms the crucial role state courts play in overseeing federal elections.”  

Background on Moore v. Harper: 

On Dec. 7, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Moore v. Harper, an appeal of a victory Common Cause and its attorneys at Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Hogan Lovells secured in a N.C. Supreme Court redistricting case. In Moore v. Harper, North Carolina Republican lawmakers floated a flimsy legal argument suggesting lawmakers should be able to make election rules without facing the checks and balances of the state courts or governors. 

Representing Common Cause, Neal Katyal of Hogan Lovells told Supreme Court Justices during oral arguments that “a blast radius from their theory would sow election chaos” if adopted. The case had the potential to erase 200 years of legal precedent and upend the American system of democracy by handing partisan lawmakers the ability to manipulate election rules and voting maps to their benefit with little to no way of stopping them. 

But the N.C. Supreme Court — in a rare and unprecedented step after its partisan composition changed in 2023 — reheard the underlying case Harper v. Hall and issued a ruling in late April overruling its prior decision against partisan gerrymandering. 

In addition to Katyal, the Hogan Lovells team included partners Jessica Ellsworth (Washington, D.C.), Katie Wellington (Boston), Tom Boer (San Francisco), and David Dunn (New York), senior associates Will Havemann and Michael West (both Washington, D.C.), and associates Olivia Molodanof (San Francisco), Jack Shaked and Ian Lewis-Slammon (both New York), and Christine Wang (Silicon Valley).

Previous press releases on this case are here and here