June 27, 2023

MTO Successfully Defends Judicial Review Powers and Voting Rights in Historic U.S. Supreme Court Victory

Munger, Tolles & Olson delivered a historic win for state courts and voting rights advocates, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution's Elections Clause does not strip state courts of their power to enforce state constitutions that limit the power of state legislatures when they set the rules for federal elections.

In a 6-3 decision, the High Court rejected the so-called “independent state legislature” theory and affirmed the power of state courts to enforce state constitutional limits on the authority of state legislatures to regulate federal elections. If accepted, the “independent state legislature” theory, advanced by North Carolina lawmakers, would have given state legislatures unreviewable power to control voting for congressional, and potentially even Presidential, elections. 

“James Madison extolled judicial review as one of the key virtues of a constitutional system…,”  Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. “The Elections Clause does not carve out an exception to that fundamental principle.”

The case, Moore v. Harper, was brought to the U.S. Supreme Court by several North Carolina legislators after the North Carolina Supreme Court held that the congressional redistricting plan enacted by the legislature was a partisan gerrymander that violated the North Carolina Constitution.  

MTO partner Don Verrilli argued the case for the State of North Carolina and defended the ruling of the North Carolina Supreme Court. He was assisted by Elaine Goldenberg, Ginger Anders, Kain Day and Leo Mangat.

The case has garnered significant news coverage in Law360 and other publications.

About MTO’s appellate practice

Munger, Tolles & Olson’s appellate and Supreme Court practice is recognized as among the best in the nation and routinely handles the highest-stakes matters before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. courts of appeals, and state appellate courts. Our lawyers have secured victories in cases of historic importance and have won ground-breaking appeals around the country on a wide range of subjects, including antitrust, securities, intellectual property, cross-border disputes, and regulatory matters.

Learn more about our appellate practice.