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Voting & Elections 12.11.2022

New York Times: The Election Is Over. The Fight Over Voting Rules and Gerrymanders Isn’t.

Voting rights advocates are mulling whether to mount another dauntingly expensive ballot initiative to make the commitment to nonpartisan maps ironclad, said Catherine Turcer, the executive director of Common Cause Ohio. And the bar to success might get even higher. Republican legislators proposed a constitutional amendment last month that would raise the threshold for voter approval of constitutional changes to 60 percent of the vote, from the current simple majority. Republicans call it a move “to safeguard Ohio’s constitution from special interests” who pour money into initiative campaigns. Ms. Turcer called it an effort to shield the ruling party from anything that could dilute its control. “It’s clear these people are drunk on power,” she said. “And what do you do with those kinds of people? You take away their keys.”

MSNBC's "Symone" (VIDEO): Common Cause's Kathay Feng Discusses the Threat to Democracy Posed by the Supreme Court Case Moore v. Harper

“I think the reason Common Cause is fighting so hard to make sure everyday people understand what’s at stake in Moore v. Harper is that this is not just about who decides how lines are drawn for districts in North Carolina. This is fundamentally about our American democracy,” Common Cause's National Redistricting Director Kathay Feng tells Symone Sanders, host of MSNBC's Symone Show.

New York Times: Supreme Court Seems Split Over Case That Could Transform Federal Elections

When the court closed the doors of federal courts to claims of partisan gerrymandering in Rucho v. Common Cause in 2019, Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the five most conservative members of the court, said state courts could continue to hear such cases — including in the context of congressional redistricting. “Our conclusion does not condone excessive partisan gerrymandering,” he wrote. “Nor does our conclusion condemn complaints about districting to echo into a void. The states, for example, are actively addressing the issue on a number of fronts.” Seeming to anticipate and reject the independent state legislature theory, he wrote that “provisions in state statutes and state constitutions can provide standards and guidance for state courts to apply.”

McClatchy: Supreme Court hears NC case on elections, with big implications for 2024 and beyond

But the legislature’s opponents, led by Common Cause and Supreme Court litigator Neal Katyal, said there is far more historical precedent in favor of continuing the same set of checks and balances that have always been in place. Katyal also said the Supreme Court has been incredibly hesitant in the past to rule on state constitutional issues. Yet ruling in favor of North Carolina lawmakers in Moore v. Harper, he said, would render state constitutions toothless in every state in the country — at least when it comes to protecting voting rights. “Frankly I’m not sure I’ve ever come across a theory in this court that would invalidate more state constitutional clauses,” he said. He said that ruling in favor of Moore and the other state lawmakers could endanger state constitutional protections across the country, like guarantees of fair elections, or of secrecy at the ballot box. ... Katyal later told the justices there’s good reason for them to be confused. “We can’t tell you what we think (the legislature’s) theory honestly is,” he said. “What they just told you is the opposite of how they started out on page one of their brief.” Several of the court’s more conservative justices pushed back, suggesting that the legislature’s argument wasn’t as flawed as Katyal suggested. Clarence Thomas — the only current justice who endorsed this theory when it was raised unsuccessfully as part of the Bush v. Gore case in 2000 — pressed Katyal with numerous questions about legal precedent.

Newsweek: Clarence Thomas' Own Ruling Used Against Him in High-Stakes Election Case

During the oral arguments, Neal Katyal, an attorney for the Common Cause organization, brought up past remarks that the Supreme Court made in the Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board case. "And Justice Thomas, it's the same point picking up on Justice Kavanaugh's questioning. Palm Beach, the court said that sovereignty was at its apex when talking about state constitutions and interpretations by state courts," Katyal said. "This Court never second-guessed state interpretations of their own constitutions." In Katyal's remarks, he specifically mentioned page 78 of the Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board ruling, where the Court said, "It is fundamental that state courts be left free and unfettered by us in interpreting their state constitutions."

This Major Voting Rights Case Could Erode People's Voting Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the important voting rights case Wednesday, Dec. 7. 

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