The Intratextual Independent “Legislature” and the Elections Clause

Morley, Michael T. | April 1, 2015

Many states have delegated substantial authority to regulate federal elections to entities other than their institutional legislatures, such as independent redistricting commissions empowered to determine the boundaries of congressional districts. Article I’s Elections Clause and Article II’s Presidential Electors Clause, however, confer authority to regulate federal elections specifically upon State “legislatures,” rather than granting it to States as a whole. An intratextual analysis of the Constitution reveals that the term “legislature” is best understood as referring solely to the entity within each state comprised of representatives that has the general authority to pass laws. Thus, state constitutional provisions or laws creating independent redistricting commissions that purport to limit a state legislature’s power to draw congressional districts or otherwise regulate federal elections violate the Elections Clause.