Next steps in Moore v. Harper

Welcome to the Thursday, March 23, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Litigants in Moore v. Harper submit briefs on SCOTUS’ next steps after North Carolina’s highest court re-hears case
  2. Jacksonville’s mayoral election advances to a runoff
  3. Learn about this year’s state executive and state legislative races with On the Ballot, our weekly podcast

Litigants in Moore v. Harper submit briefs on SCOTUS’ next steps after North Carolina’s highest court re-hears case

First, let’s update you on Moore v. Harper, a Supreme Court case involving North Carolina’s redistricting process and one of the high-profile SCOTUS cases we’re covering in 2023.

The parties in the case filed supplemental briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court on March 20 at SCOTUS’ request after the North Carolina Supreme Court announced it would re-hear the case. The briefs outlined each party’s view on whether SCOTUS still had jurisdiction in light of the state court’s decision. Reuters’ Joseph Ax wrote that “If the justices decide they no longer have jurisdiction, they could dismiss the case without issuing a ruling.”

The case, which was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 7, concerns the Constitution’s election clause and whether it gives state legislatures sole authority to regulate federal elections without oversight from state courts. North Carolina House Speaker Timothy Moore (R) and a group of Republican legislators brought the case before SCOTUS after the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in February 2022 that the congressional boundaries the Republican-controlled legislature adopted in 2021 were unconstitutional. The North Carolina Supreme court had a 4-3 Democratic majority at the time. 

After the state supreme court overturned the original congressional district boundaries, it sent the case back to the trial court for further proceedings. In February 2022, the Wake County Superior Court adopted congressional districts that three court-appointed former judges had adopted. Those districts were used for the 2022 elections.

As a result of the 2022 elections, the North Carolina Supreme Court changed partisan control from a 4-3 Democratic majority to a 5-2 Republican majority. In February 2023, that court agreed to re-hear its decision overturning the district boundaries. The court re-heard oral arguments on March 14.

SCOTUSblog Amy Howe wrote, “Lawyers involved in [in Moore v. Harper] disagreed on Monday about whether the Supreme Court has the power to reach a decision in the case.”

Here’s a look at the views different petitioners filed in their briefs: 

  • The legislators that brought the case told the justices the Court should decide on the case. In their brief, the group said “the North Carolina Supreme Court decision to rehear [the case] had no effect on this Court’s continued jurisdiction.” 
  • Lawyers for the group Common Cause, another challenger in the case, agreed. In their brief, the group said that “the Court should, if at all possible, decide this question now, rather than on an emergency basis during the 2024 election cycle.”
  • Attorneys representing the state of North Carolina wrote, “The State’s 2022 congressional elections have already taken place under the state court’s interim map, and Petitioners will suffer no prejudice from letting the ordinary appeals process play out…Although the Court has already received briefing and heard oral argument in this case…The decisions on review are nonfinal, and this Court should therefore dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.”

Reuters’ Ax wrote that the congressional boundaries the state supreme court overturned “would likely have secured 11 of the state’s 14 congressional seats for Republicans.” In the 2022 elections, Republicans and Democrats won seven U.S. House districts each.

Keep reading 

Jacksonville’s mayoral election advances to a runoff 

Let’s move further south and take a look at Tuesday’s general election for mayor in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Donna Deegan (D) and Daniel Davis (R) advanced from Tuesday’s election and will face each other in a runoff on May 16. With 100% of precincts reporting, Deegan received 39% of the vote, and Davis received 25%. Six other candidates, including one Democrat and three Republicans, also ran.

Incumbent Mayor Lenny Curry (R) was term-limited.

In Jacksonville, all candidates run in the general election regardless of party affiliation. If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters advance to a runoff.

Broken down by party, Democratic candidates received a combined 48% of the vote in Tuesday’s election, while Republican candidates received a combined 51%. Candidates not affiliated with any party received 1%. 

Deegan is a philanthropist and local news anchor. Ahead of Tuesday’s election, Deegan’s campaign had focused on infrastructure, public health, and housing affordability. “Folks are with us because they see the vision that we are looking out to the future, not reactive. We’re trying to bring people into things, so the next step is to continue those conversations,” Deegan said. Deegan completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Click here to read her responses. 

Davis, the former president and CEO of Jacksonville’s Chamber of Commerce, highlighted public safety. Speaking to supporters on Tuesday, Davis said, “Will we elect a mayor who will stand with our brave men and women in uniform to make Jacksonville safer? Will we as Jacksonvillians go down the pathway of San Francisco and New York? … Will we elect a mayor who will stand with Gov. Ron DeSantis to keep Florida free? Or will we embrace the policies of the left that punish hard-working taxpayers?”

The last time a Jacksonville mayoral election advanced to a runoff was 2015. Then-incumbent Alvin Brown (D) and Lenny Curry (R) advanced to the runoff after receiving 42.6% of 38.4% of the vote in the general election, respectively. Curry defeated Brown 51% to 49% in the runoff.

Jacksonville also held general elections for city council, supervisor of elections, property appraiser, sheriff, and tax collector. Seven city council elections and the election for property appraiser advanced to a runoff. 

As we mentioned earlier this week, we’re covering 40 mayoral elections in the country’s 100 largest cities this year, with at least one election being held every month except for January and July.

The current partisan breakdown of the mayors of the 100 largest U.S. cities is 62 Democrats, 26 Republicans, three independents, and seven nonpartisans. Two mayors’ partisan affiliations are unknown. Based on 2020 population estimates, 76.1% of the population of the top 100 cities lives in cities with Democratic mayors, and 16.2% lives in cities with Republican mayors at the start of 2022.

Keep reading 

Listen to the latest episode of On the Ballot, our weekly podcast

On the Ballot, our weekly podcast, takes a closer look at the week’s top political stories.

In this week’s episode, host Victoria Rose and Ballotpedia’s Marquee Staff Writer Doug Kronaizl take a very early look at the state executive and state legislative races that will take place later this year, including elections in New Jersey, Kentucky, and Virginia.   

Episodes of On the Ballot come out Thursday afternoons, so if you’re reading this on the morning of March 23, you’ve still got time to subscribe to On the Ballot on your favorite podcast app before this week’s episode drops! 

Click below to listen to older episodes and find links to where you can subscribe.

Listen Here!