Could the Supreme Court Decide Moore v. Harper on Statutory Grounds?
In December the Supreme Court will hear argument in Moore v. Harper, in which the justices have been asked to determine whether state courts may revise and redraw congressional districts to ensure compliance with state constitutional requirements. The petitioners argue such actions by state courts infringe upon the authority of state legislatures under Article I, section 4 of the Constitution. This argument, relying on what is often referred to as the “independent state legislature doctrine,” has sparked concern that (Republican) state legislatures could adopt restrictive voting laws and extreme gerrymanders, even where doing so could transgress state constitutions (or, at the very least, state court interpretatins of state constitutional requirements).
Article I, section 4 reads as follows:
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
(There is also similar language concerning the eslection of electors in Article II, section 1.)
Most of the debate over (and briefing in) Moore v. Harper focuses on the first part of
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