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Tags: democracy | harper | moore
OPINION

We Shouldn't Stray from Constitution's Clear Election Norms

election and voting norms
(Melinda Nagy/Dreamstime.com)

Frank Pavone By Thursday, 22 December 2022 10:40 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments earlier this month in the case Moore vs. Harper (Docket No. 21-1271).

We’ve been talking about this case for many months at Priests for Life because the justices will decide how much control state legislatures will have over how their states conduct elections. That has a profound impact on how pro-life laws (among others, of course) are crafted and enforced.

Before we delve into the case, let’s crack open a copy of the U.S. Constitution. In Article 1, Section 4 we read, "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations."

Those are pretty clear words and yet disputes have arisen from time to time over which branch of state government should dictate how elections are administered.

The case before the high court came out of North Carolina and it will decide whether state courts have the power to change, or throw out, election provisions that the state legislature put in place regarding elections.

The North Carolina case came about after the legislature last year, in accordance with its duties, redrew the borders of congressional districts following the 2020 census.

But the North Carolina Supreme Court struck down the map, ruling that it was redrawn to benefit the GOP in violation of the North Carolina constitution.

For the 2022 midterm elections, a map drawn by the court was used.

North Carolina lawmakers say their authority comes from the U.S. Constitution and the state court does not have the right to take away this authority.

We all know that state legislatures are elected bodies whose political composition will change and will at one or another time be dominated by one or another political party.

Yet the Constitution gives that body, and not any other, authority over elections. It’s not hard to understand.

In a dissenting opinion when the U.S. Supreme Court decided to allow the court-drawn map to be used for the 2022 elections, Justice Samuel Alito pointed out the potential harm to state residents in the court throwing out the legislature’s map and using its own version:

"The applicants will be irreparably harmed if a stay is not granted because they will be deprived of their constitutional prerogative to draw the congressional map in their State, and the public interest will be disserved if the 2022 congressional elections in North Carolina are held using districts that we eventually determine were unconstitutionally imposed."

Oral arguments in Moore vs. Harper lasted three hours.

The consensus of Supreme Court observers is that the justices do not seem willing to give carte blanche to the legislatures.

But it’s worrisome to limit their authority, so clearly stated in the Constitution.

We have seen disputes arise when state legislatures put certain requirements of law in place that are then overlooked, things like when the deadline is for mail-in ballots, or whether those ballots have to bear the voter’s signature.

Election officials and secretaries of state have told election workers in various states to disregard such provisions of the law.

Since when do they have the authority to set the law asides, especially on matters that the Constitution so clearly puts in the hands of the democratically elected legislatures.

It’s clearly a constitutional question, and the only thing the nine high court justices should concern themselves with is whether or not the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures the final say in setting norms for the elections.

To this writer, it seems like a slam dunk.

To much of the mainstream media, on the other hand, should the Supreme Court justices vote to uphold our Constitution and acknowledge the rights that our Founders clearly wanted state legislators to have, democracy as we know it will be nothing but a footnote to history.

A guest essay written by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, against the legislators’ position ran in The New York Times Dec. 5 with this headline: "I’m the Governor of North Carolina. This Fringe Claim Before the U.S. Supreme Court Would Upend Democracy."

Actually, the opposite is true.

This case has implications far beyond North Carolina.

Many of us live in states where many voters are finding it hard to trust election results after what they’ve seen in recent years.

With the right decision, the Supreme Court could go a long way toward restoring an essential aspect of American political life: the voters’ faith in the election process.

Fr. Frank Pavone is one of the most prominent anti-abortion leaders globally. Read Fr. Frank Pavone Reports — More Here.

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FrankPavone
With the right decision, the Supreme Court could go a long way toward restoring an essential aspect of American political life: the voters’ faith in the election process.
democracy, harper, moore
777
2022-40-22
Thursday, 22 December 2022 10:40 AM
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