Supreme Court rejects controversial Trump-backed election law theory

Supreme Court stands in the breach and John Roberts says no to the far right. The chief justice is behind a very important ruling that rejects an out there legal theory that would have could have let states count your votes, actually not count your votes at all, I should say. CNN’s John Priscu joins me at the table and David Chalian is still with us. This just happened this morning. John, explain. There’s so many different fascinating nuances to this. But as you give your answer I want to put up on the screen what the the the outcome

was six to three. Exactly right. First of all, this was the case that could have been moot. And John Roberts said when he announced it from the bench that there was a strong argument for remoteness and they decided they were still going to handle it. But he said that part of my opinion doesn’t lend itself to oral presentation. So I will skip it to Ghana because mean, let’s just and I. Let’s get to what the. It is exactly. Because I didn’t because he brushed away, you know, lower court developments in North Carolina and decided to

take on this very important question of whether state legislatures have complete an independent and control over setting election rules, drawing redistricting maps without a check by their state Supreme Court

just looking to their state Supreme Court. State constitution protections, for example, for equality. And that was at issue here was an extreme partizan gerrymander in North Carolina that the state Supreme Court had rejected for equal protection, voting rights reasons. And the Republican dominated North Carolina legislature had come to the Supreme Court saying you should rule that state legislatures are essentially insulated from this kind of check

by state courts because of the Constitution’s elections clause, which says that state legislatures are responsible for the time, manner and place of elections. Chief Justice John Roberts. 63 vote once they got to the merits. I think this was understandable because North Carolina was pushing such a hard argument, said judicial review is such a part of our Constitution, our country our Constitution for both state courts and federal court judges, and we are not going to eliminate it now. So. So to boil it down, the what they were listening to was an argument that the legislatures in

in all 50 states can take the votes and change them and overturn them. The vote that comes out out of the state. And the fact that the court they had the option to just reject it and not and not rule on it the fact that they made the decision to rule on it and did it did so with the six to three majority meant that they wanted to, as we said, drive a stake through this idea. Right. And also I think with 2024 looming, they probably thought do it now because because there are there were

challenges coming down the road that were similar. Do it now. Do it outside of a presidential election year and get it done with. And it was very decisive. Much better for democracy to not do that in the heat of the election or retroactively, but to do it ahead of time. This is good for democracy. I mean this is good because because of the 63 nature of the ruling as well and that it is from different political corners that you see people coming together. But Della think about what you’re saying. I think about the argument that

Donald Trump was having with Mike Pence when he was asked again to send it back to the states. Well, if this somehow ruled differently and this this theory that that legislatures, state legislatures had total autonomy over this, Mike Pence may have come to a different conclusion. And then these different slate of electors not representative of how those states voted, maybe, but then it just unravels from there. This ruling now continues to keep some guardrails in place for the democracy that are incredibly, incredibly important. In a six to three decision, the justices rejected a case out

of North Carolina that argued state courts have no oversight in reviewing election rules, rules, we should note, that would be decided by potentially partizan state legislatures. The theory, you might recall, was bolstered by backers of the former president following the 2020 presidential election. CNN’s Jessica Schneider was at the Supreme Court earlier today when this decision came down, put this into context for us. Jessica, why is this case so important for us? This is really the Supreme Court working to put a preemptive stop to any potential election chaos as we head into the 2024 election cycle.

So what this is saying is that state lawmakers of any party, they do not have the final say in determining what election rules election laws, even voting maps will go into effect. They essentially do not have carte blanche to enact whatever rules they want. And state courts can step in to rule on whether those laws or rules are actually constitutional. This is a much different outcome than what these conservative challengers had pushed for here. Conservatives especially those backing Trump in the 2020 election, backing his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. They had pushed this theory

known as the independent state legislature, a theory saying that because the federal constitution says that legislatures are the ones who are in charge of the time, place and manner of elections, that legislatures is only should be able to prescribe what the rules are surrounding federal elections. But the Supreme Court today in a 63 decision with Chief Justice John Roberts writing the opinion, saying no, that isn’t the case, that state courts do have a role here. This is from the opinion that Roberts wrote. It says State courts retain the authority to apply state constitutional restraints when

legislatures act under the power conferred upon them by the elections clause. And he did continue to explain how historically state courts, federal courts, they have routinely stepped in to maybe put constraints on a state legislature or even a federal legislature if they enact certain laws. As we see, that’s the power of the courts to review these laws. This is a decision that no doubt has been celebrated by voting rights groups. We even saw the former president, Barack Obama, celebrating this decision from this from this court. But Barack Obama wrote this. He said they rejected the

fringe independent state legislature, a theory that threatened to upend our democracy and dismantle our system of checks and balances by giving state legislatures near-total control of federal election. Laws. This ruling is a resounding rejection of the far right theory that has been peddled by election deniers and extremists here. I will warn one thing in this opinion. The chief justice in writing it did say that state courts don’t have, quote, free reign. Putting some information in there about maybe federal courts reviewing state court decisions. So while this does sort of put the kibosh on free reign

for state legislatures, there could be some litigation in the future depending on how state courts step in when it comes to elections. So there will be further litigation. But at least for the 2024 election, things should be chaos free. Some some foreshadowing there from the chief justice, really a complex legal case and not their final decisions. Some big ones coming up potentially over the next few days exactly by end of the week likely. We know you’ll be back to discuss them. Jessica Schneider, thank you so much.

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