In a 6-3 decision announced Tuesday, the high court ruled state judges have the authority to override state legislatures when it comes to how federal elections are carried out. Previously, the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the state trial court's invalidation of the Republican-controlled general assembly’s congressional map and thus mandated the use of a judicially-created map.
In the ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts authored the majority opinion which states the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution "does not insulate state legislatures from the ordinary exercise of state judicial review."
Christian Adams, a former Justice Department attorney, is president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation which filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case. That brief argued the Elections Clause gives state legislatures and the U.S. Congress the power to draw congressional maps.
Reacting to the ruling, Adams says it was not a “terribly big surprise” from the high court.
“Nonetheless, I think that state legislatures are closest to the people,” he says, “and that's why the Founders put state legislatures in the Constitution.”
The high court heard arguments in December from Republican politicians who drew congressional districts that predictably favored their party over Democrats. That effort was blocked by the North Carolina Supreme Court, which has a majority of Democrats.
The effects of this week’s ruling is “minimal” because a new Republican majority on the North Carolina Supreme Court has already undone its redistricting ruling, according to an Associated Press article.