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Moore v. Harper and its Threat to Democracy: What You Need to Know

Updated: Jul 28, 2023


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Moore v. Harper is a threat to democracy

At the end of June, the Supreme Court said it will hear Moore v. Harper, a case that could give state legislatures unprecedented power to maintain highly partisan gerrymandered congressional maps. Following the January 6th insurrection, this is a chilling development that could give states the ability to arbitrarily throw out electors and skew the results of a federal election.

What is Moore v. Harper?

Moore v. Harper comes out of North Carolina, where the Republican House Speaker, Timothy Moore, has filed suit against a voter named Rebecca Harper regarding her dispute over a highly-partisan federal electoral map drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature. The case is testing the “independent state legislature doctrine” legal theory, which claims the state legislature has the power to regulate federal elections without interference from state courts. In this case, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled the proposed map, which was blatantly gerrymandered, was unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt under the North Carolina Constitution. Unfortunately, Moore appealed and SCOTUS agreed to hear it.

Why is this a terrifying development?

During the 2020 election, many Republican-controlled states tried to throw out Democratic presidential electors and replace them with illegitimate, Republican presidential electors to deliver Trump a fraudulent victory. If Republicans are successful in winning this case, that means state legislatures can:

  1. Draw congressional districts

  2. Set rules for federal elections

  3. Appoint presidential electors as they see fit, regardless of the popular vote in the state

  4. Circumvent state courts, because this doctrine asserts courts have no power to interfere – even if the legislature blatantly violates the state constitution.

This means coordinated voter and elector fraud among Republican-controlled legislatures could completely remove the legitimacy of a federal election, and potentially overthrow a Democratic presidential election winner. If it sounds unlikely, think again, as Republican-led state legislatures like that of Wisconsin have created a gerrymander that puts them in a powerful position to rig federal elections.

What’s going on in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin is among the biggest partisan gerrymanders in the U.S., giving Republicans a veto-proof majority that essentially means the state is under one-party rule. Or in other words, an authoritarian government. Sure, statewide elections could generate some Democratic leadership, but for any federal or state-level district elections, the fix is in.

When will SCOTUS hear Moore v. Harper?

The U.S. Supreme Court indicated it will hear Moore v. Harper this fall. Given the Court’s abominable decisions in cases like Roe v. Wade, Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta, and New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, it’s not an exaggeration to say a decision for Moore could be the death knell to our democracy, which is already hanging on by a thread.

What can I do to help ensure we don’t devolve into autocratic rule?

Make sure you vote in every election. But also, take time to educate as many people as you can regarding the dire consequences of voting for Republicans or not voting at all. Or, as what happened in 2016, the consequences of voting for people who have no chance of winning and ultimately split the Democratic vote.

Many people don’t pay attention to politics and have no idea how dire the situation really is. It’s important we all work together to educate voters on the terrifying and very real threats to our democracy.

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