Secretaries of state, including from Vermont, warn ‘independent state legislature theory’ would upend elections

By Madison Hirneisen | The Center Square

Thirteen Secretaries of State led by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in Moore v. Harper, a case that will have the court considering the “independent state legislature” theory.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Moore v. Harper in December, a case brought forth after the Republican-controlled North Carolina Legislature adopted a new congressional voting map based on 2020 Census results. A group of Democratic voters and nonprofit organizations alleged the map was a partisan gerrymander that violated the state constitution and challenged it in court, according to Ballotpedia.

Wikimedia Commons/Mark Gunn

The “independent state legislature’ theory at the center of the case is a doctrine that asserts only state legislatures can make laws to regulate federal elections. The case before the court considers this theory and ponders whether State Courts are prohibited from reviewing state election laws under the Constitution.

In February, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the state could not use the map in the 2022 elections, describing it as an “egregious and intentional partisan gerrymander” to benefit Republicans, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

North Carolina lawmakers proposed a second map that was not accepted by the court, resulting in the court ordering “special masters” to draw a fair congressional map.

North Carolina Republican state legislators filed an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court to try to put the gerrymandered map back in place, but the court ended up denying the request. In a dissent, however, justices stated that the independent state legislature doctrine was an important topic for the court to resolve, according to Ballotpedia.

In March of this year, North Carolina House of Representatives Speaker Timothy Moore filed a request asking the Supreme Court to review the lower court’s decision. The court granted the request in June 2022.

The ‘independent state legislature’ theory at the center of the case is a doctrine that asserts only state legislatures can make laws to regulate federal elections, according to Democracy Docket. The case before the court considers this theory and ponders whether State Courts are prohibited from reviewing state election laws under the Constitution.

If the theory is upheld, some officials fear it could result in unchecked power for state legislatures to regulate federal elections. In the submitted amicus brief, the 13 Secretaries of State raised concern about the theory.

“All states have built up substantial reliance on the founding principles and [the Supreme Court’s] opinions that have reaffirmed state legislature’s regulations of elections are subject to the checks and balances of state law,” the amicus brief states. “Dismantling those legal regimes now based on a mistaken legal theory alien to our country’s history and this Court’s precedent would have far-reaching and unpredictable consequences on our country’s elections.”

The brief also points out that the Supreme Court has historically “respected” judicial review over state election laws, adding that “upending the role of state courts in interpreting state election laws could unsettled established case law in the states.”

The 13 secretaries who co-signed the amicus brief filed by the Colorado Attorney General represent California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, according to a news release.

Images courtesy of Flickr/justgrimes and Wikimedia Commons/Mark Gunn

8 thoughts on “Secretaries of state, including from Vermont, warn ‘independent state legislature theory’ would upend elections

  1. With all the attention on mail-in balloting and the requirement for signatures on the ballot envelope, I decided to check in with my Town Clerk to ask to verify the signature of record in my voter registration file. I was told the Town Clerk doesn’t “…have a file of people’s signatures.”


  2. At first glance, all 13 States are controlled by one party, which in turn, sold out their sovereignty to corporate and foreign interests. At this juncture, it is crystal clear to most that unchecked, unhindered BIAS rules over ethics and law. Not only here in the USA, but across the globe. Look North to Canada. After all the shenagins pulled on them, five provinces are now defying Federal (Trudeau) firearm mandates. The UK is crumbling, so they play musical chairs with globalist Prime Ministers (Not elected) hoping for complete control and dominance. This isn’t about Constitutional rights or voting. It is about globalism – the New World Order. The long game started decades ago is in the final quarter. Hence, the final nail in the USA coffin is to dominate and rig elections into perpetuity and with that our Constitution (Federal and State) is null and void. All of this judicial and legislative posturing is to destroy the Republic of the United States by destroying every State in the Union.

  3. I would be very observing of detail after seeing Condos’ performance in the last 2 1/2 years. This guy is untrustworthy and he knows the foxes are now beginning to zero on the chicken(s). So he is retiring; yeah Rigggggggggggggght!!

  4. States are SOVEREIGN entities, per the US Constitution

    According to the U.S. Constitution, the state LEGISLATURE is the only entity that has the right and power to make election laws, rules and regulations

    In fact, the state Legislature can appoint anyone as a US Senator, or as a US Representative, regardless of any voting by the people, per the US Constitution

    Read it, and you will be so much smarter

    The federal government plays no role, other than no one’s basic civil rights, such as freedom of speech, etc., are abridged.

    • Correct Willem….State Legislatures crate voting districts not political parties (as BTV does)…. the 13 States that filed this brief against NC legislature are DEMOCRATS! They fear they will lose their power to cheat?…becuse they have also “gerrymandered” freely. Witness the BTV “Ward 1” w/ UVM kids. These 13 Dopey Dem states should have kept their mouth shut and just let NC do it this time…. because the NC legislature fought back all the Dem LawFare lawsuits – and now it is at the Supreme Court. And what they say will then be “cast-in-stone” & unchallengeable. So in the end, these Dem ignorants who joined in might create Supreme Court law that may hinder how they themselves perhaps cheated & gerrymander!.

  5. Vermont double standard. VT signs a brief against the NC legislature supposedly “gerrmandering”. but legislatures make districts. Go back to around 2013 when the PROGRESSIVES in BTV “gerrymandered” BTV’s WARD 1.. who is in Ward 1? UVM students. They wanted the off campus apartments to be able to get out-of-state kids to register in VT, and vote Dem….. To GERRYMANDER just for UVM apartmet areas is fraud….students mostly. Because if a student is a legal VT resident & in state tuition, he can vote via his home address with an absentee ballot, easily mailed. But if you are an OUT OF STATE student in an Apt in Ward 1, you have NO right to vote as a VT resident! Never forget, this is how Bernie Sanders “frauded” his first BTV Mayoral election…to win by 12 votes – by getting several hundred illegal out of state kids at UVM. Where is CONDOS to demand BTV examine the voter roll from UVM district WARD 1 – are they legal VT residents?!…It’ll never happen in BTV.

    • Jeffrey,

      So if all these “out of state” darlings are declaring they are “VT residents,” in order
      to vote then they must be paying in-state tuition, correct ??

      All, their vehicles must be registered in Vermont along with a valid Vermont driver’s
      license if they are a resident, fees to be paid to the state by all residents………

      Either they vote in their home state, or the universities, need to refund the fee for the
      out-of-state tuition, they can’t have it both ways !!

      Just ask Condos, he should know about gerrymandering…………..

      • CHenry…don’t forget…these kids live out of state and their parents deduct them on their incomes tax as a “dependant”….and you forgot the easiest one….if an out of stater registers to vote as VT resdient…besides still paying out of state tuition….check VT INCOME TAXES….if you are a VT resident, you file VT INCOME TAXES…and most every college kid has some kind of job during summers off…or school year…so they will get 1099’s – which are reported. So if these kids don’t file a short VT Income tax, off those 1099’s….THEN THEY ARE NOT VT RESIDENTS….the problem is…How many are in WARD 1 BTV cheating? Don’t know….I’d bet NO ONE checks the Ward 1 voter roll. Why would they…ALL THE VOTES ARE FOR DEMS 🙂

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