WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court seems poised to take on a new elections case being pressed by Republicans that could increase the power of state lawmakers over races for Congress and the presidency, as well as redistricting, and cut state courts out of the equation.
The issue has arisen repeatedly in cases from North Carolina and Pennsylvania, where Democratic majorities on the states’ highest courts have invoked voting protections in their state constitutions to frustrate the plans of Republican-dominated legislatures.
Already, four conservative Supreme Court justices have noted their interest in deciding whether state courts, finding violations of their state constitutions, can order changes to federal elections and the once-a-decade redrawing of congressional districts. The Supreme Court has never invoked what is known as the independent state legislature doctrine, although three justices advanced it in the Bush v. Gore case that settled the 2000 presidential election.
“The issue is almost certain to keep arising until the Court definitively resolves it,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in March.
It only takes four of the nine justices to agree to hear a case. A majority of five is needed for an eventual decision.
Many election law experts are alarmed by the prospect that the justices might seek to reduce state courts' powers over elections.