Albany Law School’s Government Law Center researcher explains Moore v. Harper, State Law on Federal Elections


Newswise – As conversations and claims about the election continue, Albany Law School’s Government Law Center (GLC) is considering the upcoming Moore v. Harper case in the U.S. Supreme Court on December 7 in its latest explanatory, “Moore v. Harper: Can State Laws Regarding Federal Elections Be Subject to State Judicial Review?

“The question clearly posed is whether state courts have the authority to consider any claim relating to an action taken by a state legislature that relates to federal elections. The ruling could also affect the voter selection mechanism. from the states to the Electoral College,” writes author and GLC legal director Richard Rifkin. “This is probably the most important election case ever heard by the Court.”

The case began with a challenge to North Carolina’s new congressional districts drawn by the state legislature following the 2020 census. The North Carolina Supreme Court struck down the new districts as it found that they violated several provisions of the North Carolina state constitution. Timothy Moore, Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, filed a motion to stay that decision with the U.S. Supreme Court. The stay was denied due to impending elections, but the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, which will be heard on December 7.

Moore argued that state courts have no authority to review the actions of state legislatures when they relate to federal elections.

“The question at issue is based on what is sometimes referred to as the ‘independent state legislature’ theory. It is based on Article I, Section 4 of the federal constitution, which provides that ‘the times , the places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof, but Congress may at any time by law make or modify such regulations,” writes Rifkin “The appellants argue that this provision excludes any entity in a state government other than its legislature from involvement in federal election law. Thus, according to this theory, changes to any law enacted by a state legislature can only be considered by Congress.

“Whether the Court will accept the doctrine of independent state legislature is an open question. If so, it would be one of the most significant historical shifts in how state governments work, at least in cases related to federal elections,” Rifkin concludes.

Read the explanation here.

The Explainer is the latest in a series from the GLC that concisely outlines the law that applies to important public policy issues. The GLC has also created explanations on a variety of topics, including state constitutional amendments, voting rights, government ethics reform, redistricting in New York, immigration, aging, and police policy, among others.

Learn more here.

The Government Law Center helps state and local governments better serve their communities while developing the next generation of leaders in public service. We are a diverse and inclusive group of practitioners, students and scholars working together to produce high-quality, reliable and non-partisan legal research and analysis.

Albany School of Law is a small private school located in the heart of the New York State capital where it has been training leaders since 1851. The institution offers students an innovative and rigorous curriculum taught by an engaged faculty. It has an affiliation agreement with Albany State University that includes shared programs and access for students and faculty to learn from each other. Students have access to New York’s highest court, the federal courts, the executive branch, and the state legislature. With approximately 10,500 alumni practicing across the country and on multiple continents, Albany Law School graduates are a vital community and resource for the school and its students. The school offers the JD degree — the traditional law degree — as well as residential and online master’s and LL.M. programs, as well as online advanced certificate programs.

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