The opinion will make it easier for other state government officials to intervene in some instances in lawsuits when the state government is divided.
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion for an 8-1 court, with only Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissenting.
“Through the General Assembly, the people of North Carolina have authorized the leaders of their legislature to defend duly enacted state statutes against constitutional challenge,” Gorsuch wrote. “Ordinarily, a federal court must respect that kind of sovereign choice, not assemble presumptions against it.”
Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said the decision marked the second time this year that “the Justices have stretched existing procedural rules to allow Republican state officials to participate in litigation in which Democratic state officials had already been involved.”
Vladeck added: “These decisions will have especially significant ramifications for states with divided governments, in which it’s now that much more likely that there will be multiple parties purporting to speak on the state’s behalf.”
In a solo dissent, Sotomayor argued there was no need for the Court to allow the two North Carolina legislators to intervene when state executive officials were already representing the state’s interests.
“States are entitled to structure themselves as they wish and to decide who should represent their interests in federal litigation,” Sotomayor wrote. “State law may not, however, override the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by requiring federal courts to allow intervention by multiple state representatives who all seek to represent the same state interest that an existing state party is already capably defending.”
This story is breaking and will be updated.