Not altogether surprisingly, but still a pleasant alternative to my most grim forebodings, the Corrupt Supreme Court™ managed not to overturn centuries of precedent, practice, and the ordinary functioning of federal democracy and convincingly ruled in favor of at least the possibility of free and fair elections. That meant they ruled against the GOP authoritarian fantasy that state legislatures possess total, unreviewable control over national elections, including getting to decide who wins, no matter what those pesky voters might say.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court that “state courts retain the authority to apply state constitutional restraints when legislatures act under the power conferred upon them by the Elections Clause. But federal courts must not abandon their own duty to exercise judicial review.”
The decision does have ramifications well beyond the dispute in North Carolina that led to this ruling.:
Opponents of the idea [that state legislatures have untrammeled authority over federal elections], known as the independent legislature theory, had argued that the effects of a robust ruling for North Carolina Republicans could be much broader than just redistricting and exacerbate political polarization.
Potentially at stake were more than 170 state constitutional provisions, over 650 state laws delegating authority to make election policies to state and local officials, and thousands of regulations down to the location of polling places, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.
The three dissenters in the 6-3 USSC decision included two you’d expect, Alito and Thomas. I’d have guessed that Kavanaugh would have joined them, but he did not; the third treasonweasel* was Gorsuch. The anti-constitutional troika wanted to avoid the precedent the majority has now created by using a more recent North Carolina Supreme Court decision reversing the one that had led to the case before the USSC as an excuse to moot the case.
IANAL, but the fact that the majority led by Roberts chose to rule as they did seems to me an important signal. Yeah, the conservative majority is a loose cannon and bereft of basic judicial ethics–but there are some bridges too far.
Alas, the decision will not likely save democracy in NC itself. The case the Supremes ruled on today originated after the then-Democrat majority NC Supreme Court disallowed a gerrymandered map. When Republicans took control of the court in the last election, the new court reversed that decision. As a result…
In North Carolina, a new round of redistricting is expected to go forward and produce a map with more Republican districts.
This thread is as open as Clarence Thomas is for business laundered as “friendship.”
*By “treasonweasel” I do not mean that the “justices” in question are traitors to the United States in the form delineated in the criminal code. They have, however, betrayed their oaths: they are not merely failing to defend the Constitution, but are actively working to undermine it. In my book that’s close enough to a colloquial definition of treason to merit the epithet, with apologies to weasels everywhere.
Image: Francisco de Goya, Tribunal de la Inquisición, between 1812 and 1819. (N.B.: while there is nothing funny at all about the Inquisition, imagining the GOPsters pressing this coup-under-the-color-of-law-enabling theory in dunce caps was too tempting to resist.)