A no-uncertain-terms brief [PDF] submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court by all 50 state Supreme Court Chief Justices eviscerated the so-called "Independent State Legislature" (ISL) theory being pushed by far-right legal activists.
Their rare decision to file an amicus curiae (friend of the court) SCOTUS brief reflects the unanimous recognition by all of the nation's State Chief Justices that the fringe ISL "legal" theory is so dangerous that, if it were to be embraced by a majority on our nation's highest federal court, it could hasten an end to our Constitutional democracy. And that is not hyperbole.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court, now dominated by six unelected "radicals in robes", granted review in Moore v. Harper, a case brought to SCOTUS by North Carolina's Republican-controlled State Legislature after their partisan gerrymandered Congressional redistricting plan was struck down by their state's Supreme Court on the grounds that it violated NC's Constitution.
Ironically, Tar Heel State Republicans owe their own control of the General Assembly to partisan gerrymandering. When Democratic Governor Roy Cooper was reelected in 2020, he defeated his Republican opponent 51.5% to 47% statewide, yet GOPers were able to retain control of 56% of NC Senate seats and 57.5% of the House thanks to extremely partisan state district maps.
In Moore the NC Republican petitioners to SCOTUS rely upon the same ISL theory advanced by disgraced former Chapman Univ. Law Professor John Eastman as part of Team Trump's effort to steal the 2020 Presidential election.
Their argument is that, absent a federal law to the contrary, a State legislature has a plenary right to engage in what NYU's Brennan Center for Justice describes as "deeply undemocratic" partisan gerrymandering of Congressional Districts. They contend that, when it comes to laws regarding federal elections, state legislatures may not be constrained by a state's constitution as interpreted by its state courts.
In their brief, the 50 State Chief Justices argue that the ISL, as advanced by NC Republicans, does violence to the meaning of the word "Legislature" as envisioned by the framers and as it appears in the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause (Article 1, Section 4), which provides that the "Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations."
Embrace of the ISL theory by a SCOTUS majority in Moore could similarly result in approval of Eastman's radical theory that state legislatures enjoy a Constitutional right to override the will of state voters to choose electors in the next Presidential election. It all underscores President Joe Biden's recent assessment that, come November, "democracy will be on the ballot"...