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Decoding The Supreme Court’s Silence On The Independent State Legislature Theory

The Supreme Court asked for an additional round of briefings on what it should do with a major, potentially mooted election law case out of North Carolina over a month ago. Since then, crickets.

The case, Moore v. Harper, grew out of a contested North Carolina redistricting process, but has since become shorthand for the independent state legislature theory (ISLT), a right-wing idea that state legislatures are entitled to sole authority over administering federal elections. A maximal reading of this notion excludes state courts, state constitutions and even governors’ vetoes.

The Court’s May 4 request for extra guidance — its second, after an initial call on March 2 — corresponds with the extraordinary twists and turns the underlying case has taken. During the 2022 midterms, North Carolina Republicans won a lopsided 5-2 majority on the state Supreme Court, the first time they controlled the bench since 2016.


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