Honest Elections Project backs the independent state legislature theory : NPR

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case next term involving a controversial legal theory that powerful state legislatures have applied federal election rules that the Project Conservative Honest Elections backed the court record.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case next term involving a controversial legal theory that powerful state legislatures have applied federal election rules that the Project Conservative Honest Elections backed the court record.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

A controversial legal theory that could completely reshape presidential and congressional elections has had its say in its submission to the US Supreme Court.

Since 2020, a conservative group advocating more restrictive voting laws has submitted numerous court briefs to try to influence judges, including the claim that the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures decide how federal elections are conducted. there are no restrictions from the state constitution or state courts.

The group calls itself the Honest Elections Project, as of 2020, according to company profile filed in Virginia, has been registered as a business alias for The 85 Fund. The organization has federal tax-exempt status, millions of dollars in contributions and expenditures that are hard to track, and relationship with Leonard Leo – co-chairman and former executive vice president of the Federation of Federations, who helped build the Supreme Court’s conservative majority.

Three of the judges have signal that they are likely to take sides with Republican legislators in an upcoming North Carolina redistricting case that could lead to the Supreme Court’s endorsement of the so-called independent state legislative theory. Lawmakers will need the support of at least two other judges on the court, where conservatives enjoy a 6-3 supermajority.

Over the past two years, what many in the legal world considers fringe theory has become increasingly a hot topic. The Honest Elections Project’s court filings highlight how conservative groups have urged judges to examine exactly how much power state legislatures have over rules for federal elections. state.

Jason Snead, chief executive officer of the organization, said: “This is our priority. Moore and Harper, which the court is expected to hear in the coming months. “Obviously, a case that settles this in the Supreme Court is a hugely important inflection point. And so we’re going to dedicate resources to this.”

The team cited theory in court filings for previous cases of voting rules in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Snead’s organization has dedicated resources to other cases.

In 2020, the Honest Elections Project was submitted a legal brief supporting the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, unsuccessfully brought the United States Supreme Court a case about whether a state court could extend the deadline for receiving ballots by mail. Invoking its authority under the state constitution, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court requested an extension of the three-day period to “prevent disenfranchisement of voters” amid postal service delays during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a brief fight against the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision, the Honest Elections Project made reference to the U.S. Constitution. Election Terms and Voters Cause in arguing that the state legislatures are “given an indivisible universal power by the state constitution to determine the time, place, and manner of presidential and congressional elections.”

This year, the conservative group echoed that view again in the US Supreme Court in a short for a case about whether North Carolina legislators can intervene in a lawsuit and defend the state’s voter ID law that the state’s attorney general has protected.

“Although the Court briefly reviewed the doctrine of the independent state legislature during the previous Term, it has not yet ‘clarified’ that such doctrine is our law,” the summary said. for the Honest Elections Project said. Justice Clarence Thomas ‘dissent’ for the Pennsylvania case. “It should do so here.”

Many legal scholars warn theoretical backing from the Supreme Court could bring chaos to upcoming elections.

Sneaker in his opinion, getting to the “core of what it’s like to have a free election.”

“I think that’s something that we need to give a definitive answer to – when the Constitution provides for the legislatures to write the laws that govern our democracy, is that what it means or does it mean?” what else?” add sneakers.

But many legal scholars point out that state legislatures are the product of, and are limited by, the constitutions of their states, and that the U.S. Supreme Court has long delayed interpreting these laws. state constitution and laws.

Opponents of independent state legislative theory warns that if it is ultimately upheld by the highest court in the country, it could bring chaos to upcoming elections, making mapping of polling stations easier. and clear the way for state legislators to try to sabotage the outcome of the 2024 presidential race.

The courts are likely to rule next summer with their tentative decision in the North Carolina redistricting case, which election law experts have been closely watching.

To date, however, the Honest Elections Project has not engaged with the Republican National Committee and the Republican National Redistricting Fund in submitting court friends’ briefs about the school. that case. (Both of these groups cited variations of the independent state legislature theory in their records.)

“This is simply a question of bandwidth,” Snead said, noting that the group plans to submit a brief now that the Supreme Court has agreed to handle the case. “Of course, we are very, very pleased to see that the court is likely to step in and settle this question.”

NPR researcher Nicolette Khan contributed to this report.

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