Courts and State-Controlled Federal Elections

In Moore v Harper, the Supreme Court is being called on to decide whether State courts can rearrange State elections laws—in particular, write their own Congressional district maps—as these pertain to how a State runs Federal-level elections.

It shouldn’t even be a question. Our Constitution is quite clear on the matter of who is responsible for setting the rules for Federal elections. Here’s Article I, Section 4:

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof….

And only the Federal Congress can adjust those Times, Places and Manner. Not State courts, not even Federal courts.

Our Constitution and every State constitution also is clear on the place and role of the court system in our Federal and State governments. The Judiciary branches are coequal with the Legislature and Executive Branches—neither subordinate nor superior to either. Especially, the Judiciary branches are separate from the other two branches; they are not additional legislative facilities.

State courts, including State Supreme Courts, the facility at proximate case in Moore, have no role in setting or adjusting State Legislature-written Federal-level election rules for their States.

One argument that is being pushed on the Supreme Court for allowing State courts to overrule State Legislatures is “the Founders couldn’t possibly have meant no court oversight of State election laws.” This is obviously inaccurate. In the first place, what the Founders meant in our Constitution is what they actually wrote down and passed out of Convention to submit to the people to ratify.

In the second place, what We the People meant when we ratified that Constitution is that written-down, passed out of Convention, Constitution, with a single modification by us. The Federalist and Anti-Federalist debate, which involved a number of folks in We the People, resulted in a commitment to pass Amendments comprising what came to be called the Bill of Rights—the first 10 Amendments—and We the People ratified those Amendments promptly out of the First Congress. None of those Amendments address in any way how an individual State conducts its Federal-level elections.

No court oversight State election laws is precisely what the Founders intended, and it’s exactly the intention of We the People.

Full stop.

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