WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week in Moore v. Harper reinforced the role state courts and Florida’s constitution have in stopping unfair and discriminatory laws, election rules, and voting maps.
“All voters, including in Florida, dodged a dangerous attempt to put partisan goals above people power with the recent Supreme Court ruling in Moore v. Harper,” said Amy Keith, Common Cause Florida’s program director. “Preserving the checks and balances of our courts was a clear victory for our democracy, and we at Common Cause Florida will continue our work to ensure every voter has the right to cast a ballot in free and fair elections.”
The ruling (available here) in Moore v. Harper is a decisive win 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 affirmed that state legislatures do not have absolute power to manipulate election rules and voting maps. They are subject to the checks and balances of state courts and state law.
It means that in Florida, state courts will still be able to review election-related laws to ensure they comply with existing laws and the state constitution, including the fair districts amendment that Floridians added to their constitution by popular vote in 2010. This amendment provides clear rules about how redistricting must be carried out and the state legislature cannot just defy, dismiss, or dismantle these laws. (Note: Common Cause Florida is also a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit challenging Florida’s Congressional voting maps for violating the U.S. Constitution for intentionally discriminating against Black voters).
The Supreme Court’s pro-democracy decision in Moore v. Harper stopped a dangerous attempt by partisan extremists looking to exempt their legislative attacks on voting rights from the scrutiny of state courts.
“Historical practice confirms that state legislatures remain bound by state constitutional restraints when exercising authority under the Elections Clause,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts for the majority.
The ruling put to rest the dangerous and disingenuous “independent state legislature” idea that sought to undermine people’s voting power.
“We beat back the most serious legal threat our democracy has ever faced with the ruling in Moore v. Harper,” said Kathay Feng, vice president of programs for Common Cause. “This is a major victory for our rights as Americans to have a government that values every person’s voice and vote.”
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 rules for federal elections without facing the checks and balances of the state courts.
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. For more information, visit Common Cause’s website here.