IN Brief

Women4Change Indiana files brief in controversial election case

By: - October 27, 2022 1:00 pm

Women4Change Indiana weigh in on an upcoming redistricting case. (Getty Images)

Women4Change Indiana Inc. has filed a legal brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in a North Carolina case — Moore v. Harper — that will determine who has authority over federal elections.

The case before the court addresses whether the North Carolina State Supreme Court has the power to strike down the North Carolina legislature’s gerrymandered congressional map because it violates the North Carolina Constitution.

The case is based on a fringe legal theory called the independent state legislature doctrine. North Carolina legislators’ position is contrary to the traditional checks and balances that are intrinsic to our form of government, according to Women4Change Indiana. Lawmakers there argue that state legislatures alone have the power to draw the maps for federal congressional elections — and that the state judiciary is not permitted to review those laws.

Women4Change’s submission – called an amicus or friend of the court brief – provides insights and information on the impact of gerrymandering, the process of skewing districts for political advantage when drawing maps. Over the course of Indiana’s history, both political parties have gerrymandered federal districts along partisan lines, resulting in a congressional delegation that does not fairly reflect the political makeup of the general population. This imbalance has led to voter disenfranchisement and has made legislative compromise virtually impossible.

As Women4Change explains in its brief, “Hoosiers have few paths to rectify the inequitable end product, which silences the voices of hundreds of thousands of voters across the state.” If the Court sides with the petitioners in Moore v. Harper “that problem will only get worse, and it will be increasingly difficult for states like Indiana to have the voices of all its citizens heard in Congress.”

Article 2 Section 1 of Indiana’s Constitution requires that “All elections shall be free and equal,” and Indiana courts have long held that their role is to determine whether legislative action meets the requirements of Indiana’s Constitution.

“Democracy is at risk,” said Rima Shahid, CEO of Women4Change. “Without a system of checks and balances, we don’t have fair elections. When legislative districts are drawn in a way that prevents elected officials from being held accountable, then Hoosiers are deprived of equal voting power and fair representation.”

To prepare the brief, Women4Change engaged a team of attorneys from Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. Members of the team previously represented voters in a voting rights case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. At the trial level, the case invalidated more than 30 state and federal legislative districts as unconstitutionally partisan gerrymandered.

Moore v. Harper will be argued at the U.S. Supreme Court Dec. 7.

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Staff Reports

Indiana Capital Chronicle staff - Casey Smith, Niki Kelly, Whitney Downard, Leslie Bonilla Muñiz

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