Our Vote … In The Hands Of SCOTUS

Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina knows of what he speaks:  A Democrat, he was re-elected to a second term as governor in 2020. Before becoming governor, he served four terms as attorney general. He was a state senator for 10 years before that, including serving a few years as the majority leader. He also held a seat in the State House of Representatives earlier in his career.  And when he speaks, I think we should sit up and take note.  Yesterday, he spoke in the form of an OpEd in the New York Times on the subject of Moore v Harper, the case before the Supreme Court that could upend fair and honest elections in the U.S.  His views help clarify just what is at stake, and should be required reading!

North Carolina’s Governor Says a Fringe Claim Before the Supreme Court Would Upend Democracy

Governor Roy Cooper

05 December 2022

Over the past six months, the United States Supreme Court has handed down one misguided ruling after another, stripping Americans of the constitutional right to an abortion, curtailing the regulation of guns and industrial emissions, and muddying the divide between church and state. The people have protested. They’ve organized. And in 2022, they voted.

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the June decision on abortion, the majority wrote that “women are not without electoral or political power.” That’s one thing they got right, and Republicans found that out the hard way in the November midterm elections that they expected to win big. Now, however, the very ability to exercise electoral and political power at the ballot box is hanging in the balance in a case the court is scheduled to hear on Wednesday.

Moore v. Harper is a case from North Carolina that state and national Republicans are using to push an extreme legal premise known as the independent state legislature theory. While the United States Constitution delegates the authority to administer federal elections to the states, with Congress able to supersede those state decisions, proponents of this theory argue that state legislatures are vested with the exclusive power to run those elections. This view would leave no room for oversight by state courts and put the ability of governors to veto election-related legislation in doubt.

The court’s decision on this alarming argument could fundamentally reshape American democracy. Four justices have suggested that they are sympathetic to the theory. If the court endorses this doctrine, it would give state legislatures sole power over voting laws, congressional redistricting and potentially even the selection of presidential electors and the proper certification of election winners.

Indeed, the North Carolina Supreme Court, in a decision this year, said the theory that state courts are barred from reviewing a congressional redistricting plan was “repugnant to the sovereignty of states, the authority of state constitutions and the independence of state courts, and would produce absurd and dangerous consequences.”

You can look to North Carolina to see the potential for dire consequences. In 2010, Republicans took over the state legislature after the midterm elections. Since then, North Carolina has been ground zero for Republican attempts to manipulate elections. As the state’s attorney general and now governor since 2017, I’ve dealt with Republican legislative leaders as they advanced one scheme after another to manipulate elections while making it harder for populations they have targeted to vote.

These schemes robbed voters from the start to the end of an election: a voter ID requirement so strict that a college ID from the University of North Carolina isn’t good enough. No same-day registration during early voting. No provisional ballots for voters who show up at the wrong precinct. Shorter early voting periods eliminated voting the Sunday before Election Day, a day when African American churches hold popular “souls to the polls” events.

Fortunately, these measures were stopped in 2016 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which described them as targeting African Americans “with almost surgical precision.”

Republicans in the legislature have also gerrymandered districts in diabolical ways. In 2016, state Republicans drew a congressional redistricting map that favored Republicans 10 to 3. They did so, the Republican chairman of a legislative redistricting committee explained, “because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.”

North Carolinians have relied on courts and my veto power as governor to foil many of these schemes. In 2022 a successful lawsuit in state court challenging a 2021 gerrymandered congressional map resulted in fair districts, splitting the state’s 14 districts (the state gained a district after the 2020 census) so that Democrats and Republicans each won seven seats in November’s elections. It seemed only right, given the nearly even divide between Democratic and Republican votes statewide. Republican efforts to avoid this result led to the Moore v. Harper appeal now before the Supreme Court.

As recently as 2019, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a majority opinion on partisan gerrymandering claims in Maryland and North Carolina that state courts were an appropriate venue to hear such cases but that those claims were political issues beyond the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Retreating from that position on the role of state courts would be a shocking leap backward that would undermine the checks and balances established in state constitutions across the country.

Republican leaders in the North Carolina legislature have shown us how the election process can be manipulated for partisan gain. And that’s what you can expect to see from state legislatures across the country if the court reverses course in this case.

Our democracy is a fragile ecosystem that requires checks and balances to survive. Giving state legislatures unfettered control over federal elections is not only a bad idea but also a blatant misreading of the Constitution. Don’t let the past decade of North Carolina voting law battles become a glimpse into the nation’s future.

21 thoughts on “Our Vote … In The Hands Of SCOTUS

    • Oh yeah, we do seem to have an acronym for just about everything! I rarely use SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) but I was in a hurry when I wrote this one. Sorry! xx


      • That was exactly my thought. Of course I was so glad/relieved that Warnock won, but it was back-and-forth for three solid hours, and there were a hell of a lot of fools that apparently don’t care a whit about this country, about the Constitution, or about the people in this country. HOW can anybody vote for someone as obviously stupid as Walker??? This nation is, as you say, doomed if that is an indication of the level of intelligence here.


    • Well … Moore v Harper and the Georgia run-off elections are two separate issues, but if we outlawed Tuesdays, then they’d just have elections on Wednesdays. I’ve never understood why we don’t have them on weekends like most other countries do. Oh yeah … I remember why … ’cause then everybody could get out and vote, and they don’t want that now, do they? Sigh.


      • Elections in Canada must now fall on Mondays except if the Monday falls on a statutory holiday, when which it will be called on a Tuesday. I think the one difference between the USA and Canada is that employees must be given 4 consecutive paid hours off work on election days to deliberate and allow time for voting. Polls must be open for 12 hours. (I am not sure what happens with those standing in line to vote at closing time, but I certainly hope they get to place their ballots.)
        I haven’t really paid attention, but it used to be elections had to be called every 5 years, though they can be called at any time, especially when a the government loses a “No Confidence” vote in Parliament. Mostly, though, a ruling party will call an election when they think the people are happy with what they are doing. Often they discover the opposite.
        Why Monday? No idea. Supposedly because most people use Sunday to sober up, and they don’t start drinking to excess until later in the week. Thus the term, “sober deliberations”!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mondays? I can’t think of a worse day to hold elections! Half the people are still hung over from the weekend! I do like, though, that Canadian businesses must give employees 4 hours off for voting … we don’t even do that here. People have to either manage it on their lunch break, or before/after work. Then, add the fact that their assigned polling place could be an hour’s bus ride from their job … Here, if you are in line by a certain time (it varies by state) then you will be allowed to vote.


          • And it’s too late to learn it, 😊. Except for the cross around your neck, no one can tell you are Catholic — unless you announce it. The boobs and make-up (if you wear any) kinda gives away the woman in you, but they are nothing to be ashamed of. Someone is going to jump on this, but it is the straight white Christian males who should be ashamed. Their rose-coloured glasses prevent them from seeing the good things in life, the things they refuse to see.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Until recent years, the Court succeeded remarkably well in being non-partisan, and while I didn’t always agree with their decisions, I never thought they were playing party politics. Today, though … it’s a different story. The framers of the Constitution feared this happening, which is why they made it a lifetime position so that they wouldn’t have to pander to anyone to keep their seat on the Court. But, I believe that at the very least, Kavanaugh and Barrett sold their souls to Trump and will do the GOP’s bidding henceforth. Sigh.


  1. Jill, when one of the architects of the North Carolina gerrymandering districts was asked why he altered the Congressional voting districts so that in a 50/50 state 11 of the 13 seats went to Republicans, his answer is telling. “Because we could not figure out how to get 12 Republicans.” It should be noted when I copied this legislator on an email saying our Voter ID bill was Jim Crow like, he ripped me a new one. After his second caustic email, I said using my age at the time. “I am a 55 year old White man raised in the South and a former Republican; you and I both know what this bill is all about.” It was later ruled unconstitutional and was amended. It should be noted this legislator had to retire a few years later due to misuse of campaign funds. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • I saw that earlier today and had to read it 3-4 times to believe he actually said that! My friend … we have big problems in this country!!! Gerrymandering is one big one, of course, but after tonight’s run-off election in Georgia, I think we have others as well. Naturally, I was glad that Warnock ultimately prevailed, though it bounced back and forth numerous times between 7:15 and 10:30 when they called it for Warnock. But … when I look at the fact that 1.7 million people voted for Walker … I have to ask if our education system is failing that badly, or if we have become a nation peopled by those who simply no longer care about democracy, no longer realize the dangers of ignorance?


      • Jill, as the back and forth went on last night, I kept thinking even if Walker wins, the Republicans will lose. They are already shooting themselves in the foot with Taylor-Greene, Gosar, Gohmer, Gaetz, McCarthy, Jordan, Johnson, et al. Adding an embarrassingly unqualified Walker to the mix would show how little gravitas and veritas the party has. Warnock and Dems are not perfect, but at least they are talking about policy issues and have actually done things that even some Republicans voted for. Again, I do not mind conservative ideas (as I have both progresssive and conservative bents), but the folks I mentioned are not espousing ideas, they are spewing mean-spirited and inane banter. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

        • If I didn’t already have ulcers, I would have gotten them last night! Yes, if Walker had won, the Republicans would have lost, but … as you say, they’ve already got Greene, Gosar, Gaetz, Gohmert, and all the rest, so what’s one more? I imagine there are some in the GOP who are secretly relieved to be shed of Walker. No, they don’t stand for an ideology or values, their platform is to “own the Libs”, whatever the heck that precisely means. It is to defeat Democrats and to refuse to work across the aisle, to find ways to reverse Democratic policies on such things as climate change, gun laws, and to try to shore up a system that will keep Democrats from winning in future elections. But, the real problem as I see it is the people, the voters, who aren’t thinking with their heads, or else simply don’t care any longer about good governance, about democracy. They are so easily fooled, wear blinders, and won’t even listen to anything anybody has to say. How to we counter that?


  2. Pingback: REBLOG: Our Vote in the Hands of SCOTUS – The Bag Lady

Comments are closed.