Judicial Review and Moore v. Harper: Safeguarding Representative Democracy

Judicial Review


Judicial Review

Judicial Review in the United States has its origin in the first landmark case decided by the court, Marbury v Madison, the United States Supreme Court created the concept of judicial review, giving the court a check on both Congress and The Executive branches of government. The concept of Judicial Review is a cornerstone of the power of the judicial branch of our tri-parte government structure. No court has overturned Marbury v Madison, allowing the court to interpret the law reviewing decisions from lower courts.

The recent landmark decision in Moore v. Harper, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. writing for a 6-3 majority, has significant implications for the survival of representative democracy in the United States. By affirming that the Elections Clause does not shield state legislatures from state judicial review, the court struck a blow to the extreme anti-democratic right wing. This decision serves as a powerful reminder of the crucial role played by a free and impartial electoral system in safeguarding American democracy. Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, and Alito dissented. Two of the three dissenters have serious ethical questions hanging over their respective heads. It was reported in Salon, that Justice Alito has close ties to the law firm representing Moore, yet he did not think it necessary to recuse himself from this case. Representing the plaintiffs in Moore, Salon reports, one of the lawyers on the case from the law firm of Cooper (who has ties to Alito) and Kirk, one Megan Wold served as a clerk for Justice Alito. If this is true, there is cause for bias in finding the Plaintiff in his descent in this case. One might ask, just what motivated Alito’s descent, a true belief that his position was the right interpretation of the law, or was his decision unduly influenced by his relationship to Cooper and Wold? Could the news for Alito be any more damaging? I think not.

The Significance of Moore v. Harper

Judicial Review: Challenging the Independent State Legislature Theory

The ruling in Moore v. Harper directly challenges the notion of the independent state legislature theory, which posits that state legislatures have absolute power and authority over all matters related to elections. Proponents of this theory argue that state courts have no jurisdiction to review or intervene in decisions made by state legislatures. However, the court’s rejection of this theory has far-reaching implications. It underscores that state legislatures are not immune from state judicial review, highlighting the necessity of a system of checks and balances within state governments.

Ensuring Judicial Review as a Check on State Legislatures

Moore v. Harper strengthens the role of state judiciaries in overseeing and evaluating the actions of state legislatures. By upholding the principle of judicial review, the court affirms that state courts have a crucial role in interpreting and enforcing election laws, ensuring fairness, and protecting the rights of voters. This decision strikes a balance between the powers of state legislatures and the judiciary, reinforcing the idea that no branch of government should have unchecked authority.

Protecting Representative Democracy through Judicial Review

Upholding the Principles of Majority Rule

One of the fundamental pillars of representative democracy is the principle of majority rule. Moore v. Harper serves as a vital protection against attempts to suppress the will of the people by challenging election laws or outcomes. The court’s ruling reaffirms that democratic decisions made through the electoral process should be respected and upheld, countering efforts to subvert the democratic process and ensuring that the voice of the majority prevails.

Preserving Equal Representation and Voter Rights

Fair and equal representation is crucial for maintaining a healthy democracy. Moore v. Harper plays a significant role in mitigating the risk of gerrymandering, a practice that distorts electoral boundaries to favor specific political interests. The court’s decision reinforces the importance of impartiality and fairness in redistricting processes, helping to safeguard the principle of “one person, one vote.” Furthermore, by upholding state judicial review, the ruling helps protect the right to vote for all citizens, ensuring that voting rights remain inviolable.

The Judicial Review Blow to Extreme Anti-Democratic Forces

Challenging the Threat of Authoritarianism

Extreme anti-democratic forces substantially threaten the stability and functioning of representative democracy. Moore v. Harper’s rejection of the independent state legislature theory deals a significant blow to these forces by curtailing their attempts to concentrate power in state legislatures. By affirming the authority of state courts to review and intervene in election-related matters, the court’s decision acts as a deterrent to anti-democratic measures, preserving democratic principles and institutions.

Reinforcing Constitutional Checks and Balances

The court’s ruling in Moore v. Harper reinforces the importance of constitutional checks and balances as a bulwark against the erosion of democratic values. By affirming the power of state judiciaries to hold state legislatures accountable, the decision bolsters the integrity and independence of the judiciary. This reaffirmation of the judiciary’s role as a safeguard against governmental overreach strengthens democratic institutions and prevents the concentration of power in any single branch of government.

The Vitality of a Free and Impartial Electoral System

Fostering Public Trust and Confidence

A free and impartial electoral system is vital for maintaining public trust and confidence in the democratic process. Moore v. Harper serves as a powerful reminder that an unbiased electoral system is necessary to preserve the legitimacy of elections. By upholding the principles of fairness and impartiality, the court’s decision contributes to the cultivation of trust among citizens, ensuring that their voices are heard, and their votes are counted.

Mitigating the Risk of Electoral Manipulation

A robust electoral system is essential for mitigating the risk of electoral manipulation and safeguarding democratic outcomes. Moore v. Harper strengthens this system by preventing state legislatures from wielding unchecked authority over election laws. By upholding state judicial review, the decision acts as a shield against systemic threats, such as attempts to undermine fair elections through discriminatory practices or partisan manipulation. It reinforces the need for transparency, integrity, and accountability in the electoral process.

Strengthening Democratic Institutions and Civic Engagement by Judicial Review

Promoting Citizen Participation

An impartial electoral system encourages civic engagement and active participation in the democratic process. Moore v. Harper’s affirmation of state judicial review reinforces the notion that every vote matters and that citizens have the right to participate in free and fair elections. By upholding the integrity of the electoral system, this decision encourages citizens to exercise their democratic rights and contribute to shaping the future of their communities and the nation.

Reinforcing the Rule of Law

The ruling in Moore v. Harper reinforces the importance of the rule of law in maintaining a healthy democracy. It emphasizes that no entity, including state legislatures, is above judicial scrutiny when it comes to election-related matters. This decision bolsters the belief that democratic governance must be guided by the principles of legality, fairness, and adherence to established rules and procedures. By upholding the rule of law, Moore v. Harper strengthens democratic institutions and fosters a society based on justice and equality.

Judicial Review: Safeguarding Minority Rights

Protecting Vulnerable Communities

A free and impartial electoral system plays a crucial role in safeguarding the rights and interests of minority communities. Moore v. Harper’s rejection of the independent state legislature theory ensures that state courts can intervene to prevent discriminatory practices and protect the voting rights of marginalized groups. By affirming the authority of state judiciaries in matters of elections, the decision acts as a shield against attempts to disenfranchise minority voters or dilute their political influence.

Advancing Social Justice

An impartial electoral system is essential for advancing social justice within a democratic society. By upholding state judicial review, Moore v. Harper reinforces the idea that elections must be conducted in a manner that respects the principles of equality and fairness. This decision helps ensure that electoral processes do not perpetuate systemic injustices and that all citizens, regardless of their background, have an equal opportunity to participate and have their voices heard.

In Conclusion

Moore v. Harper’s landmark decision serves as a resounding affirmation of the importance of a free and impartial electoral system in safeguarding representative democracy in the United States. By rejecting the independent state legislature theory and upholding the authority of state judicial review, the court has struck a blow to the extreme anti-democratic right-wing and reaffirmed the crucial role of checks and balances in democratic governance. This decision emphasizes the principles of majority rule, equal representation, and voter rights while bolstering democratic institutions and fostering public trust. Furthermore, it highlights the significance of citizen participation, the rule of law, and the protection of minority rights in maintaining a healthy democracy. Moore v. Harper stands as a reminder of the ongoing need to protect and nurture our electoral system to ensure the survival of American democracy and uphold the values it represents.

By Politics-as-Usual

Roger is a retired Professor of language and literacy. Over the past 15 years since his retirement, Roger has kept busy with reading, writing, and creating landscape photographs. In this time of National crisis, as Fascist ideas and policies are being introduced to the American people and ignored by the Mainstream Press, he decided to stand up and be counted as a Progressive American with some ideas that should be shared with as many people who care to read and/or participate in discusssions of these issues. He doesn't ask anyone to agree with his point of view, but if entering the conversation he demands civility. No conspiracy theories, no wild accusations, no threats, no disrespect will be tolerated. Roger monitors all comments and email communication. That is the only rule for entering the conversation. One may persuade, argue for a different point of view, or toss out something that has not been discussed so long as the tone remains part of a civil discussion. Only then can we find common ground and meaningful democratic change.

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