Last week, the North Carolina Supreme Court blatantly ignored the will of voters to hand down an unprecedented decision that opens the door for two state constitutional amendments to potentially be struck down. The court did this by arguing that because many of the legislators that referred the amendments to the ballot were elected from maps that were adjudicated gerrymandered, the amendments were likely invalid. Never mind the fact that a majority of North Carolina voters statewide voted to approve the amendments. RedState reported:
In what can only be described as a full-scale judicial coup, the Democrat-controlled body has ruled that the North Carolina General Assembly is illegitimate and can not enact amendments to the state’s constitution. Their reasoning? That the state’s legislature is “gerrymandered.”
The amendments in question were to enshrine the state’s voter ID law and to put in place an income tax cap. Those are now in limbo after the Democrat supreme court decided it has supremacy over the duly-elected officials of North Carolina’s voters. It’s hard to put into words how crazy that is and how dangerous of a precedent it is.
The Lawyers Democracy Fund points out that this case is yet another attempt by activists to undermine commonsense election integrity measures that safeguard our elections.
This is the latest attempt by activists to undermine election integrity by attacking legitimate and important election safeguards, namely meaningful and commonsense voter ID requirements. https://t.co/SBsVf0oJVY— Lawyers Democracy (@lawyersdf) August 23, 2022
Ironically, the court's reasoning itself is a "blatant gerrymander," as Ed Whelan explains:
The majority’s ruling itself strikes me as a blatant gerrymander, as it reconfigures established doctrine in seeming pursuit of a desired result. . .
Under Earls’s gerrymandered reasoning, legislators elected to unconstitutionally gerrymandered seats have their full power as legislators as to “ordinary legislation” but not as to legislation proposing constitutional amendments to the people for a vote. As to the latter, a court can and must first determine “whether the votes of legislators who were elected as a result of unconstitutional gerrymandering were potentially decisive.” That threshold inquiry is easily satisfied for the Voter ID Amendment and the Tax Cap Amendment.
In dissent, North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Phil Berger slammed the majority for going far beyond the authority given to the Court:
[Tt]h majority engages in an inquiry that is judicially forbidden — what should our constitution say? This question is designated solely to the people and the legislature. The majority concedes that constitutional procedures were followed, yet they invalidate more than 4.1 million votes and disenfranchise more than 55% of North Carolina’s electorate. Unwilling to accept the results of a procedurally sound election that enshrined the Voter ID and Tax Cap Amendments in our state constitution, the majority nullifies the will of the people and precludes governance by the majority. In so doing, my colleagues extend the reach of their judicial power beyond mere judicial review of actions under our constitution; instead, they have determined that certain provisions of the constitution itself are objectionable.
As RNLA noted last week, the outcome of state supreme court races this November will have a huge impact. North Carolina is the perfect example of how an activist state supreme court can undermine the will of the voters and their elected representatives.