Litigation We’re Watching
Moore v. Harper – (U.S. Supreme Court, No. 21-1271). In early 2022, the North Carolina Supreme Court rejected the legislatively adopted maps for state legislative and congressional districts. After rejecting a second version of congressional map submitted by the legislature, the court ultimately adopted congressional maps drawn by court-appointed special masters. Oral argument before the US Supreme Court on December 7, 2022 debated the question whether the Elections Clause in the United States Constitution (art. I, § 4, cl. 1) requires only a “legislature” to adopt a congressional map, or whether a state court may create and impose a map of its own design. Decision will be issued before the end of the term (June 2023).
News from Election and Ethics Agencies
Fair Political Practices Commission News – On January 1, 2023, a new state law became operative. The new law, SB 1439, prohibits local elected officials from soliciting, accepting, or directing campaign contributions of more than $250 from a party or participant or their agent involved in certain proceedings pending before the official’s agency and for 12 months after the agency renders a decision on the matter. In December, the Fair Political Practices Commission issued an opinion stating that contributions made or received in 2022 are not subject to SB 1439.
Federal Legislation – H.R. 2617 (omnibus bill that includes amendments to the Electoral Count Act) was signed into law by President Biden on December 29. The bill does four main things: 1) clarifies that Election Day is Election Day (there will be one day of choosing electors, with no possibility of a later choice). Mandates that state rules for how the election is run must be on the books before Election Day; 2) adds a firm deadline for executives to submit certificates of ascertainment of appointment of electors (no more “safe harbor” or presumptions); 3) raises the objection threshold to one-fifth of the members of Congress (instead of one member of each house of Congress) for counting electoral votes cast in presidential elections; 4) clarifies that the role of the president of the Senate (typically, the vice president) is ceremonial and has no unilateral power to determine whether to count electoral votes.