Common Cause, SCSJ Detail Legal Strategy to Protect Democracy in Upcoming SCOTUS Case
Common Cause’s legal team describes the dangers Moore v. Harper case could pose to elections and the freedom to vote.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Common Cause and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice held a media briefing Thursday, Oct. 27, outlining the legal arguments and strategy behind our fight to defend our democracy in Moore v. Harper. The U.S. Supreme Court case, stemming from the legal fight for fair maps in North Carolina, is scheduled for oral arguments on Dec. 7, 2022.
This U.S. Supreme Court case involves a dangerous legal argument seeking to eliminate the checks and balances served by the state judiciary and, at its worst, could hand state lawmakers nearly unchecked power to manipulate elections.
A brief was filed jointly by Common Cause, Harper, and League of Conservation Voters respondents last week, describing how North Carolina lawmakers’ desperate and dangerous arguments in Moore are inconsistent with the text, structure, and history of the U.S. Constitution, and contradict centuries’ worth of well-established precedent.
Common Cause’s National Redistricting Director Kathay Feng spoke about the potential consequences for voters around the country if political parties are able to manipulate voting maps and election rules.
“Checks and balances are fundamental to our government and assumes that each part of the government plays an important role in making sure that we do not have runaway power for any one branch of government,” Feng said. “But the checks and balances function of our state courts could be wiped out in one decision. So what’s the solution? The first and most obvious one is a win before the Supreme Court.”
The legal argument at the heart of Moore is a dangerous one, and goes against more than 200 years of legal precedent, said Allison Riggs, legal counsel in the case and co-executive director of Southern Coalition for Social Justice. She discussed the joint brief as well the filings of 47 amicus briefs from a wide range of bipartisan leaders and legal scholars
“The Framers knew when they were drafting the Elections Clause that state legislatures only exist because state constitutions created them and that the power to create state constitutions lies with the people,” Riggs said. “When forming this country and a government that would resist authoritarianism, [they] created healthy checks and balances that ultimately, would be politically responsive to the people itself. Judicial review, the ability of courts to check legislative bodies for compliance with constitutions, is a very important part of that.”
Finally, J. Michael Luttig, the retired conservative federal appellate judge who recently joined Common Cause’s legal team in this major voting rights case, discussed the legal, historical, and practical arguments underlying our opposition in Moore v. Harper.
“This is the single most important case on American democracy, and for American democracy, in the nation’s history,” Luttig said.
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A recording of Thursday’s media briefing is available here.