“N.C. high court takes second look at independent state legislature theory dispute” (Web, March 14) discusses the position that state legislatures have the sole power to determine the manner of electing members of Congress, including establishing congressional district boundaries.

The Constitution holds that a state’s legislature has the power to determine the time, manner and place of electing members of Congress in that state. This language clearly excludes any role or power for state courts in the matter, an exclusion made even clearer if we judge the election clause by the company it keeps. Under the Constitution as written, the state legislatures are empowered to elect senators, determine the manner of choosing members of the electoral college, modify state boundaries, authorize the federal government to acquire land for the site of federal buildings and ratify constitutional amendments. No one suggests that any of these powers is shared with state courts, and as a general rule a provision in a document is presumed to have the same meaning throughout the document.

The opponents of plenary legislative power say the Constitution’s framers could not have intended to give a state’s legislature the power to ignore or override provisions of the state’s Constitution. Here again, the Constitution is clear: If a state legislature exercises a power conferred by the federal Constitution, its exercise is “the supreme law of the land, and the judges [of that state] shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws [of that state] to the contrary notwithstanding.”

State courts have no power to reject, modify or replace congressional district boundaries or other election provisions established by the state legislature for the election of members of Congress.


Washington, D.C.

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