Supreme Court questions jurisdiction in sweeping election law clash

The Supreme Court on Thursday questioned whether it can still move ahead in a major election law case involving the authority of state legislatures.

The justices are hearing an appeal from North Carolina Republican lawmakers of a decision by the state’s top court, which struck down North Carolina’s GOP-drawn voting maps.

But that underlying decision was overruled last week, and the Supreme Court in a brief, unsigned order has asked for additional briefing on whether it still has jurisdiction.

The development is the latest sign the justices may be heading toward an off-ramp in the high-stakes case, which has weighty stakes for future elections.

In Washington, D.C., the Republican lawmakers promoted a sweeping constitutional argument that would give near-total authority to state legislatures in drawing congressional maps and settling other federal election issues, known as the independent state legislature theory.

But Republicans in the midterm elections retook control of the North Carolina Supreme Court, and the new majority agreed to rehear the court’s earlier order striking down the legislature’s maps. The court overruled that decision along partisan lines on Friday.

More from The Hill: N.C. Supreme Court overrules decision that struck down voting maps

Now, the U.S. Supreme Court justices have asked the parties to file additional briefs by May 11 on whether they can still move ahead. The parties wrote to the justices to the justices indicating they would be pleased to do so if requested.

It marks the second time the court has asked for additional briefing in the case. The justices similarly questioned their jurisdiction after the state court agreed to rehear the case.

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