The North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday ruled that there is no legal mechanism to judge claims of “partisan gerrymandering,” giving the Republican-controlled state legislatures the ultimate authority to draw congressional maps without court intervention. In a different case, the court reversed an earlier decision that had thrown out a voter ID law.
In a Harper v. Hall decision, the court concluded that there was no standard that could be used to adjudicate claims of partisan gerrymandering. Courts are not meant to interfere in policy issues.
The court’s 218-page ruling comes just months after it threw out the legislative maps drawn by Republican-led chambers in the Tar Heel State.
The Associated Press reported that in December, after the voters flipped red the court during the midterms giving Republicans a 5-2 majoritiy, the outgoing Democrat controlled Supreme Court blocked maps and ordered legislative bodies to create a new one.
In the same month, the court also blocked a North Carolina law that required voters to present photo ID at the polling station in the Holmes v. Moore Case, citing multiple violations of the North Carolina Constitution. After the new majority assumed control of the court in January, it revisited both case and reversed both decisions.
Harper v. Hall’s ruling on Friday read: “In its decision, the Court returns its tradition of honouring the constitutional roles allocated to each branch.”
The court in Holmes v. Moore ruled 5 to 2 that “[p]laintiffs have failed here to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that S.B. The court ruled that S.B. 824 had been enacted in a discriminatory manner or with the intent to create a disparate effect along racial boundaries.
In a press release, Honest Elections Project Action executive director Jason Snead said that Friday’s rulings were a “victory of the rule-of-law”.
The North Carolina Supreme Court’s decision today restoring voter identification, affirming lawmakers’ power to draw legislative maps and upholding the law that requires felons to serve their full sentences before being allowed to vote is a win for the rule-of-law and recognition of the importance, but limited role, of courts in the constitutional system.
Elias is a leftist election lawyer who argues that the Harper v. Hall decision was “a terrible one.”
He said, “It is a terrible result for democracy and voting right in North Carolina. But anyone who believes it will stop us from continuing to fight to protect and extend voting rights and democracy are wrong.” During an appearance on MSNBC Deadline: White House on Friday evening.
Snead said in his statement that Elias had “spent many years treating the North Carolina Supreme Court as a supreme legislative body,” adding:
These hyper-partisan lawsuits were used by the former Democratic majority of the Court to overturn a popular voter identification law, to try to gerrymander North Carolina in favor of Democrats, and to even create a way that courts could strike down constitutional amendments adopted by the citizens of North Carolina.
Harper v. Hall was centered around the “independent state legislation theory”, a widely debated perspective held by conservatives, that the U.S. Constitution gives state legislative bodies ultimate authority to interpret election laws. Many supporters of the theory cite the Article I, Section 4 Clause 1 of The Constitution.
It reads: “The Legislature of each state shall prescribe the Times, Places and Manner in which elections for Senators and Representatives will be held; however, the Congress can at any time amend or change such Regulations by Law, except with regard to the Places where Senators are elected.”