Supreme Court Rejects Dangerous Independent State Legislature Theory


Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Moore v. Harper rejecting the dangerous “independent state legislature” theory and affirming the long-held norm that state legislatures are bound by the important checks and balances provided by state constitutions and enforced by state courts.  

In response, Paul Smith, senior vice president at Campaign Legal Center (CLC), issued the following statement: 

“We are heartened that the Supreme Court has rejected the fringe independent state legislature theory and affirmed the role of state courts in ensuring that voters have an equal voice in our democracy.    

Today's decision means the law remains as it has been for more than two centuries: state courts and state constitutions can continue to facilitate a more transparent, inclusive and accountable democracy.  

While the Supreme Court’s ruling is a victory for democracy, the fight for fair maps in North Carolina and across the country is far from over. CLC will continue fighting for fair maps so voters can feel confident that they choose their representatives, not the other way around.”  



Moore v. Harper is centered on a gerrymandered congressional map in North Carolina. In 2021, North Carolina lawmakers crafted a congressional map that gave their own political party an unfair advantage in elections.   

North Carolina voters took the map to state court and initially won in the North Carolina Supreme Court. However, the state legislature asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case based on a fringe legal concept known as the “independent state legislature” theory. 

That dangerous theory would have given politicians nearly unchecked power to manipulate voting maps and pass state laws that thwart the will of voters by undermining the freedom to vote. 

Last October, CLC and eight other organizations spanning the political spectrum filed a friend-of-the-court brief encouraging the Supreme Court to preserve the role of state courts and independent redistricting commissions in making congressional redistricting more democratic and fair.