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On The Front Lines

Supreme Court Safeguards the Rights of the Citizenry to Challenge the Deep State’s Electoral Power Grabs and Gerrymandering


Moore v. Harper

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a 6-3 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed the rights of citizens to challenge electoral power grabs and gerrymandering in the state courts.

In Moore v. Harper, the Supreme Court held that the U.S. Constitution’s Elections Clause does not give unchecked power to a state legislature to prescribe the times, places, and manner of holding federal elections because state courts have the authority to apply state constitutional restraints on their legislature when challenged by the people. The Court’s ruling follows arguments submitted by The Rutherford Institute, the ACLU, and the Niskanen Center, which stated that the rules set by the people in their state constitution have been understood since the Founding to constrain a legislature’s power, and principles of federalism require that state courts be allowed to interpret and apply those restrictions on the legislature to preserve the right of the people to choose their elected representatives.

“What the Deep State wants is an all-powerful centralized government that is unrestrained, unaccountable, unaffected by elections, and beyond the reach of the citizenry,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “The founders, understanding that the quest for power is a corrupting influence, established a system of government, known as ‘federalism,’ that empowers the citizenry to restrain the federal government’s overreaches through state governments and representatives chosen by the people. No matter how you spin it, gerrymandering is a thinly-veiled attempt by the Deep State to maintain its chokehold on power and undermine the rights of the citizenry to choose their own representatives.”

Throughout the country, and particularly in North Carolina, partisan gerrymandering has been used to re-draw congressional maps in such a way as to favor the political parties currently in control. Over the past decade, North Carolina’s districting maps have been frequently challenged in the courts for unconstitutional gerrymandering. Most recently, in 2021, following the census, the state legislature enacted new congressional, state House, and state Senate maps along strict party-line votes. When challenged in court, a three-judge panel found that the congressional map was an intentional partisan redistricting crafted to favor one party more than 99.9999% of all possible district maps without a population-based reason to do so. The N.C. Supreme Court subsequently found that the map violated the voters’ fundamental rights to substantially equal voting power under the state Constitution’s Free Elections, Equal Protection, and Free Speech and Assembly clauses, which provide greater protections than their federal counterparts.

On appeal, members of the state legislature argued that the U.S. Constitution’s Election’s Clause forbids state courts from reviewing the validity of congressional redistricting plans under the state constitution. The N.C. Supreme Court rejected this argument as being “repugnant to the sovereignty of states, the authority of state constitutions, and the independence of state courts” and inconsistent with nearly a century of precedent by the U.S. Supreme Court. In its ruling in Moore v. Harper, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the N.C. Supreme Court and rejected the claim that the state legislature has unchecked power and can ignore state constitutional restrictions.  

Ari Savitzky, David D. Cole, and others at the ACLU helped advance the arguments in the amicus brief in Moore v. Harper.

The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties organization, provides legal assistance at no charge to individuals whose constitutional rights have been threatened or violated and educates the public on a wide spectrum of issues affecting their freedoms.

Case History

November 18, 2022 • U.S. Supreme Court Urged to Safeguard the Rights of the Citizenry, Power of State Courts in the Face of Electoral Power Grabs and Gerrymandering


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