Media Briefing: How Our Fight to Put People Over Politics Brought Us to the U.S. Supreme Court

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — National redistricting experts and state leaders from Common Cause and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice held a media briefing about Moore v. Harper on Monday to update the public about the important voting rights case. 

This U.S. Supreme Court case stems from Common Cause’s legal fight for fair and responsive maps in North Carolina and involves a dangerous legal argument claiming state lawmakers should have nearly unchecked power when it comes to determining how federal elections are run. 

This was one of several media briefings planned before oral arguments are held in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in late 2022.

Common Cause’s National Redistricting Director Kathay Feng spoke about the barriers faced by voters around the country as both political parties manipulate voting maps.

“The danger is not just that partisan political leaders will be able to draw lines without any kind of checks, but also that we the people will no longer have a representative government,” Feng said. 

North Carolina voters seeking fair maps during the most recent redistricting process faced numerous challenges, said Tyler Daye, policy and civic engagement manager for Common Cause North Carolina.

“This case is vital to our democracy [and] is essential to our ability to function as a healthy democracy with checks and balances,” Daye said, adding that it wasn’t a Democratic or Republican issue. “It’s an American issue, and all of us are negatively affected when a single branch of government holds too much power.” 

Voters would lose if the Supreme Court were to grant state lawmakers the ability to shape elections without meaningful input from the public and no oversight by the state courts, said Bob Phillips, Common Cause North Carolina’s executive director. 

“We can just imagine what it would mean in North Carolina and across the country. Legislatures being able to rig congressional lines, freely restrict the vote with regards to federal elections,” he said. “Whether it’s purging voters, making barriers regarding voter access, just an assortment of things for us here in North Carolina — it’s a real concern that we have.”

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 is encouraged by an amicus brief filed by the bipartisan Conference of Chief Justices, which represents chief justices in each of the 50 states, debunking arguments in favor of the independent state legislature theory. 

“We believe that the Court will consider the historic autonomy and authority afforded by the federal courts to state courts when interpreting state laws and constitutions,” Riggs said, adding that she foresees a path to victory. 

A copy of the briefing is available upon request.