Moore v. Harper (also N.C. League of Conservation Voters v. Hall, Harper v. Hall)
** Note: in the U.S. Supreme Court, this case is about whether state courts and state constitutions constrain state legislatures in drawing congresional lines. The case began as a consolidated challenge to state legislative and congressional lines under the state constitution, with cases named N.C. League of Conservation Voters v. Hall (this lead case) and Harper v. Hall. Documents for the consolidated case can be found here. **
A state court challenge to the state legislative and congressional maps on grounds of partisan gerrymandering and racial vote dilution under the state constitution, and challenging the state legislative maps as violating protections for county boundaries under the state constitution. Specifically, with respect to partisan gerrymandering, the complaint alleged that the plans violated the state’s constitutional guarantees of free, fair and honest elections (art. I, § 10), equal protection under the law (art. I, § 19), freedom of speech (art. I, § 12), and freedom of assembly (art. I, § 14).
This case was consolidated with a separate challenge (Harper v. Hall) alleging that the congressional map is a partisan gerrymander under the state constitution. Common Cause intervened, alleging partisan gerrymandering and intentional racial discrimination, but also seeking a declaration that the legislature had the obligation under prior state Supreme Court ruings to ascertain which legislative districts were required by the VRA before drawing non-VRA districts.
On Dec. 3, 2021, the trial court denied a preliminary injunction. On Dec. 8, 2021, on appeal, the state Supreme Court moved the state primaries from March to May, stayed candidate filing until final judgment, and ordered the trial court to proceed to expedited resolution of the merits.
On Jan. 11, 2022, the trial court rejected all of the substantive claims on the merits, and further found the partisan gerrymandering claims to be non-justiciable political questions. On appeal, on Feb. 4, 2022, the state Supreme Court reversed, and struck down both the legislative and congressional redistricting maps as unlawful partisan gerrymanders. The state Supreme Court also directed that the legislature assess the existence of racially polarized voting in order to comply with any requirement under the Voting Rights Act before satisfying other criteria under state law.
The legislature enacted remedial plans on Feb. 17, 2022. On Feb. 23, 2022, the trial court accepted the state legislative plans but found that the remedial congressional plan was also an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, and instead adopted an interim congressional plan for 2022 recommended by special masters. On appeal, on Dec. 16, 2022, the state Supreme Court affirmed the rejection of the congressional plan and the acceptance of the state House plan, but reversed with respect to the state Senate plan and ordered a new state Senate plan to be drawn.
On June 30, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court granted cert. on the question whether the federal Constitution’s Elections Clause allows state courts and state constitutions to constrain state legislatures in drawing congressional lines. On June 27, 2023, the Court rejected the “independent state legislature” theory, holding that the Elections Clause does not exempt state legislatures from the ordinary constraints imposed by state law. Federal review would be available only for the exceptional state court actions that “transgress the ordinary bounds of judicial review.”
On Feb. 3, 2023, after elections to the state Supreme Court, that court granted state legislators’ petition to rehear the appeal from the remedial maps. On Apr. 28, 2023, the state Supreme Court overturned its earlier opinions in full, finding that the constitutional provisions cited in the complaint do not prohibit partisan gerrymandering. The state Supreme Court also overturned its earlier process ruling, affirming that legislative districts required by the VRA have to be drawn before non-VRA districts, but disclaiming the requirement of any particular procedure to effectuate that goal. The state Supreme Court remanded for the legislature to draw new state legislative and congressional maps without state-law constraints on partisanship beyond contiguity, compactness, and county boundary preservation.
HistoryCase filings, starting with most recent court
|Request for briefs on impact of state s. ct. rehearing||Mar 2, 2023|
|NCLCV et al. brief||Mar 20, 2023|
|Harper et al. brief||Mar 20, 2023|
|Common Cause brief||Mar 20, 2023|
|State brief||Mar 20, 2023|
|Leg. brief||Mar 20, 2023|
|Amicus brief of United States||Mar 20, 2023|
|Request for briefs on impact of state s. ct. decision||May 4, 2023|
|NCLCV et al. brief||May 11, 2023|
|Harper et al. brief||May 11, 2023|
|Common Cause brief||May 11, 2023|
|State brief||May 11, 2023|
|Leg. brief||May 11, 2023|
|Amicus brief of United States||May 11, 2023|
|Opinion rejecting "ind. state leg." theory||Jun 27, 2023|
|NCLCV et al. motion for stay of candidate filing deadline||Dec 6, 2021|
|NCLCV et al. pet. for s. ct. review||Dec 6, 2021|
|Harper et al. pet. for s. ct. review||Dec 6, 2021|
|Amicus brief of Gov. & AG||Dec 6, 2021|
|Leg. response||Dec 8, 2021|
|State bd. response||Dec 8, 2021|
|Order staying filing deadline and postponing 2022 primaries||Dec 8, 2021|
|Petition to postpone candidate filing||Dec 6, 2021|
|Petition app. vol. 1||Dec 6, 2021|
|Petition app. vol. 2||Dec 6, 2021|
|Petition app. vol. 3||Dec 6, 2021|
|Leg. opposition||Dec 6, 2021|
|Order temporarily staying candidate filing deadline||Dec 6, 2021|
|Petition for en banc consideration||Dec 6, 2021|
|En banc order overturning stay||Dec 6, 2021|
Map | Challenged congressional plan
Map | Challenged state Senate plan
Map | Challenged state House plan
Map | Interim congressional plan (Feb. 2022)
Map | Remedial state Senate plan (Feb. 2022)
Map | Remedial state House plan (Feb. 2002)