Right-wing advocates are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to adopt an extremist and fringe interpretation of the U.S. Constitution that would give state legislatures absolute power to control how federal elections are run at the state level, with no checks and balances from our state courts. The so-called ‘Independent State Legislature Theory’ (ISLT) would effectively serve as a get-out-of-jail-free card to violate state constitutions, allowing extremist politicians to manipulate our elections, silence the voices of voters, and violate our basic American rights and freedoms.
State Judicial Independence leaders can use this messaging guide to communicate effectively about Moore v. Harper or ISLT. The following guidance comes from messaging documents released by Common Cause, Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Brennan Center for Justice, and Goodwin Simon Strategic Research.
Core Messaging Strategies
Keep it simple and clear. When discussing the Moore v. Harper case or ISLT, start with the basic threat posed to residents of your state (taking courts out of the equation and allowing politicians to manipulate the outcome of our elections and violate our constitutional rights) before moving into policy details. Long-winded civic education messages about democracy are confusing and fail to raise the stakes.
Spell out the role of state courts in defending our rights and keeping politicians in check. Our judges are the referees who ensure elected officials play by the rules. While politicians might be motivated by power, campaign donations, or partisan politics, courts work to enforce the checks and balances in our Constitution. Independent state courts are the final backstop against political attacks on our rights and freedoms.
Frame the conversation around people and focus on the desired outcomes. Our voices and our votes are the greatest power we have. State courts are crucial to protecting voting rights and we can’t let politicians change the rules for their own gain. What we want is a fair system that works for everyone – one with checks and balances to ensure that extremist politicians don’t silence our voices or trample over our rights and freedoms.
Use inclusive language. Include phrases that reference “everyone”, “for the people”, “regular people”, “our courts,” “our constitution,” “regular [your demonym]s”, and “all of us”.
Paint a picture of your state’s future. Regular people are more powerful than the people in power. Working together, we can build a better democracy for [your demonym] families and for future generations – one in which every person’s vote is counted and every voice heard. A better, stronger democracy means that the voices of voters are heard when it comes to pressing issues like safer neighborhoods for our families, better schools for our children, and cleaner water and air for our communities.
When it comes to persuasive messaging, it’s important to start and end with a positive vision for the future of your communities. Our narrative starts with a statement of shared values, followed by an articulation of the problem, a vision of the solution, and finally, a hopeful call to action.
No matter which county we live in or what we look like, [your demonym]s all deserve to have an equal voice and an equal say over who makes important decisions that affect our families and communities. We go out to vote trusting that, regardless of who wins on Election Day, our courts and our system of checks and balances will be there to ensure that politicians aren’t allowed to undermine our rights and freedoms or manipulate the outcome of our elections to serve their own desire for political power.
Extremist politicians want to silence our voices and votes by taking near-absolute power over major elections for themselves. They want to manipulate the outcome of those elections without any checks and balances from our courts, allowing them to disregard our voices when determining the futures of our families, our environment, our schools, and our health.
We need to make sure that this extremist and fringe interpretation of the U.S. Constitution 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 system of checks and balances established by America’s Founders.
- We must hold accountable any public official who supports this extremist push to overrule the will of the people. Anyone in favor of silencing our voices and undermining or thwarting our votes doesn’t deserve to represent our communities.
- We must speak out against Moore v. Harper on social media and within our communities. We believe in putting #PeopleOverPolitics – it’s time we make that clear to our elected officials.
- Our government’s system of checks and balances is like a three-legged stool – take out a leg and everything comes crashing down. We can’t allow extremist politicians to block our courts from defending our constitutional rights and freedoms.
- Here in [your state], we pride ourselves on making sure that every resident has an equal voice and equal say over who makes decisions that affect our families and communities. Moore v. Harper would change that overnight, giving extremist politicians unchecked power over our elections and allowing them to attack our rights and freedoms.
- It doesn’t matter who you vote for or which party you support – Moore v. Harper would undermine checks and balances and stop our courts from protecting the rights and freedoms of all [your demonym]s.
- Across the country, state courts have been instrumental in protecting the rights of every American from overreach by political extremists. It’s no wonder, then, that those same extremists now want to block our state courts from enforcing checks and balances. [Your demonym]s won’t stand for it.
- Moore v. Harper would make state courts powerless to stop extremist politicians from manipulating our elections on and after Election Day.
- Our judges are the referees who ensure elected officials play by the rules. If extremist politicians supporting Moore v. Harper are allowed to block courts from enforcing checks and balances, there’ll be no one left to protect our rights and freedoms.
- Power-hungry politicians want to manipulate the outcome of our elections free of consequence and without any checks and balances from our state courts. [Your demonym]s won’t stand for it. It’s time to put #PeopleOverPolitics.
- Moore v. Harper is an attack on our basic American rights and freedoms. Extremist politicians want near-total control of our elections without any checks and balances from our courts. [your demonym]s need to come together to make sure that this extremist and fringe legal theory is never allowed to become the law of the land. Our rights, including the right to have our votes matter, count on it.
- No matter where we live or what we look like, [your demonym]s deserve to have an equal voice and an equal say over who makes important decisions that affect our families and communities. Moore v. Harper would silence our voices and undermine our votes.
- Here in [your state], we won’t stand for power-hungry politicians looking to silence our voices and manipulate the outcome of our elections.
- Common Cause, Southern Coalition for Social Justice
- Brennan Center for Justice
- Just Security
- American Progress
- Amicus brief signed by heads of state supreme courts from all 50 states (Conference of Chief Justices) urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reject the argument suggested by Moore v. Harper.
- Piper Fund/Goodwin Simon Strategic Research