A Supreme Court decision last week ensures Washington state’s bipartisan process for shaping its congressional districts will remain intact.
In the majority of U.S. states, state legislatures are responsible for redistricting and other election laws, but they do not hold the power without checks and balances . Concerns over political parties gerrymandering congressional districts when they have majority control have led some states to instate independent commissions to oversee elections redistricting.
In a 6-3 landmark decision, the court upheld that state legislatures are not the sole entities vested to make elections rules or draw congressional election maps.
The ruling concerned the “independent state legislature” theory, an interpretation of the Supreme Court’s Elections Clause that suggests the law forbids any nonlegislature government entities, including independent commissions, governors or courts, to alter a legislature’s actions on federal elections.
The court said state legislatures must operate under the same rules as all other government agencies, said Cornell Clayton, director of the Foley Institute for Public Policy and Publichttps://www.spokesman.com/stories/2023/jun/27/us-supreme-court-ruling-upholds-bipartisan-electio/ Service at Washington State University. This means any election law made by a state legislature is subject to judicial review by both state and federal courts.
“If they ruled opposite, it would reverse 200 years of our understanding,” Clayton said. “It would be shocking for the court to strip itself of the authority to review legislative decisions made in states.”
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