Featured photo: Dozens of people gathered to express their dissent after the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade at the Greensboro rally for reproductive rights in Greensboro N.C., on June 24, 2022.

This story was first published by NC Policy Watch on Dec. 7.

Power-hungry politicians in North Carolina want to further manipulate our elections to allow them to pass their extremist and unpopular agenda, including further restricting or even banning abortion. One U.S. Supreme Court case could let them do it.

North Carolinians from all walks of life made their voices heard during the elections last month, turning out in the millions to support their preferred candidates and parties. As is typical, we saw a number of close elections, with North Carolinians disagreeing on who should be representing them in elected office at all levels of government.

And that’s okay! Elections are the moment in which voters remind politicians who they work for. Without that disagreement, there wouldn’t be any accountability; and without accountability, there’d be little to stop extremist politicians from stripping us of our constitutional rights and freedoms.

Unfortunately, there’s a growing number of extremist politicians in our state looking to do away with every last shred of accountability not just here, but across the country. The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments today in a case brought by those same extremist politicians which would give them the power to manipulate the outcome of our elections, silence the voices of voters, and violate our basic rights, including the right to have an abortion in North Carolina.

This case, Moore v. Harper, would block our state courts from enforcing checks and balances in federal elections on and after Election Day. In doing so, it could create chaos in our elections system and effectively give politicians a get-out-of-jail-free card to violate our state constitution in the interest of guaranteeing their own reelection – and there’d be no one in our state who could stop them.

It’s no coincidence that this is happening now in the wake of the Dobbs decision. State judges have had to step in to protect our fundamental rights and freedoms in response to unconstitutional and inequitable attacks from an increasingly partisan Congress, a polarized U.S. Supreme Court, and overreach by zealous anti-abortion state lawmakers. State judges, including on North Carolina’s Supreme Court, have also stepped in to protect voting rights and to strike down racist and illegally gerrymandered maps that attempt to enshrine one-party rule in statehouses across the country.

As we’ve seen in the six states where the question of abortion access was taken directly to the people, the majority of voters support abortion access and policies protecting reproductive healthcare access. North Carolina is no different. This majority opinion deserves to be represented in our state legislatures and in Congress, and can be when we have fair elections; which is exactly why extremist politicians want to further game our election process to cement their power and push an unpopular agenda.

Protestors chant pro-abortion slogans at the Greensboro rally for reproductive rights in Greensboro N.C., on June 24, 2022.

The months following the Dobbs decision have been filled with reports of members of Congress floating ideas for nationwide abortion bans, and with state lawmakers crafting evermore extreme bills, such as restricting people’s right to travel for healthcare or even share information about abortion. There’s no denying it: anti-abortion extremists have declared their intention to ban abortion and criminalize patients and providers – and state courts are one of the last remaining bulwarks against their attacks.

Moore v. Harper poses an existential threat to the fairness of our elections and could silence the voices of those majorities who support abortion access. Efforts to manipulate elections are as old as American politics; our courts, however, have been an important check on hyper-partisan legislative overreach, and been able to shut most of those efforts down. But if politicians are allowed to take courts out of the equation completely, they can then pass their extremist, anti-abortion, and anti-democracy agendas with impunity.

Now more than ever, North Carolinians of all ideologies must stand together against this attack on our basic rights and freedoms to choose our elected officials. We need to make sure that this extremist and fringe legal theory is never allowed into the mainstream. Our elected officials, at every level of government, work for us. As such, we must hold accountable any elected official who would back such a blatant and dangerous attack on our courts and our checks and balances.

We’re speaking out against Moore v. Harper because we know that threats to voting rights are threats to reproductive rights. We know that when the voters can pick our elected officials in free and robust elections, reproductive freedom for all wins. In this state, we believe in putting people over politics – it’s time we make that clear to our elected officials.

Tara Romano is the executive director of Pro-Choice North Carolina.

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