By next summer, the U. S. Supreme Court is likely to hand down a decision that may profoundly impact federal elections. The case, Moore v. Harper, is the biggest federalism case in a long time, maybe ever. One lawyer at oral argument this week described it as a lollapalooza — not the annual Chicago music festival, but an archaic term meaning something “extraordinary or unusual.”
The case involves something called the “independent state legislature theory.” The theory, variously explained, is that a state legislature is free to decide how federal senators and representatives are elected without following its state constitution or being reviewed by its state courts. Historically, state courts have applied state constitutions and reviewed election laws for federal officials just as they would for state officials. Moore will decide whether or how this should change.