The Intratextual Independent 'Legislature' and the Elections Clause

24 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2014 Last revised: 24 Sep 2016

Michael Morley

Barry University School of Law; Florida State University - College of Law

Date Written: October 26, 2014


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.

Keywords: Intratextualism; Elections Clause; Presidential Electors; Legislatures; Textualism; Constitutional Interpretation; elections; redistricting; independent legislature doctrine

Suggested Citation

Morley, Michael, The Intratextual Independent 'Legislature' and the Elections Clause (October 26, 2014). Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 109, No. 847, 2015. Available at SSRN: or

Michael Morley (Contact Author)

Barry University School of Law ( email )

6441 East Colonial Drive
Orlando, FL 32807
United States
8607783883 (Phone)

Florida State University - College of Law ( email )

425 W. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306
United States

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