Editor’s note: Marshall Brain – futurist, inventor, NCSU professor, writer and creator of “How Stuff Works” is a contributor to WRAL TechWire.  Brain takes a serious as well as entertaining look at a world of possibilities for Earth and the human race.  He’s also author of “The Doomsday Book: The Science Behind Humanity’s Greatest Threats.” 


RALEIGH – As the author of “The Doomsday Book,” I am always looking for doomsday stories in the news. I am especially interested in new doomsday scenarios as they are arising or worsening. Example: the whole “Lake Mead is running dry” scenario is starting to reach crisis proportions right now, so it is getting more and more media coverage.

But last week was truly monumental in this regard. Over the long 4th of July weekend, a new doomsday scenario emerged in a huge way. One day it was not there, and the next day it exploded onto the scene. Many major news outlets started covering it immediately. Both the speed and the wide coverage are rare. The first dozen articles in the Sources section below illustrate just how big a deal this new doomsday scenario is.

Here is the basic idea behind this new doomsday threat: The American democratic system of one-person-one-vote will collapse, and America will turn into a dictatorship in 2025. There was a credible attempt to make this happen in January 2021, but this first attempt failed. With the help of the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS), this dictatorship will happen for real in January 2025 and democracy in America will perish.

There are three things colliding together to make this new doomsday scenario feel so real:

  1. The widely televised hearings of the January 6 Select Committee are showing millions of Americans just how dangerously close American democracy came to collapse in January 2021. Democracy in America stood on the very brink, and it could have easily gone either way.
  2. The Supreme Court handed down several major decisions in June 2022 showing that it has its own agenda – an agenda that is often willing to disregard precedent and can also be at odds with the majority of Americans. The Washington Post notes: “its work draws comparisons to the most momentous decisions in the court’s history.” One widely circulated Twitter post captured the feelings of many with the quip, “Truly weird to wake up in America and be like, ‘What hath the council of six decreed today?’”
  3. And then this week the final piece moved into position – SCOTUS agreed to hear the case called Moore V. Harper in October. This case is expected to be the lynchpin allowing for the rise of dictatorship in the United States.

In the minds of many well-respected sources and journalists, these three things together have created a near certainty that American democracy will collapse in January 2025.

The Key to This Doomsday Scenario Is the Independent State Legislature Doctrine

Why can American democracy collapse with one Supreme Court decision? It’s because the Moore V. Harper case will allow the Supreme Court to decide on something called the Independent State Legislature Doctrine. This is exactly what happened with the repeal of Roe V. Wade on June 29, 2022 – SCOTUS agreed to hear a localized case from Mississippi called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In the process of deciding that case, the entire national right to abortion under Roe V. Wade was destroyed.

The Moore V. Harper case comes from North Carolina (NC). The question at hand in this particular case is this: If the NC state legislature comes up with gerrymandered congressional district maps that are unbalanced, does the NC state supreme court have the right to reject these maps and force them to be redrawn? To better understand the problem with gerrymandering, this video can be helpful – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGLRJ12uqmk.


Currently, state supreme courts and governors are understood be able to edit the actions of state legislatures when it comes to voting issues. But this precedent may soon be undone through the decision on Moore V. Harper.

The U.S. Supreme Court could very well decide that the NC state supreme court has no right at all to an oversight role over the NC state legislature. In this localized North Carolina case, it would mean that the NC state legislature can draw any districting maps it likes, and no third party can edit them.

But the broader implication if SCOTUS goes this route is that all state legislatures gain complete autonomy and free rein when it comes to elections. This level of freedom is known as the Independent State Legislature Doctrine.

The U.S. Constitution Contains No Concept of One Person One Vote for President

Even though today we take it for granted that “We, the people” get to vote for and decide who is president, this actually is not the way the United States Constitution is written. The U.S. Constitution, in Article II Section 1, spells it out this way:

“The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows

 Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress”

This wording is where the concept of the electoral college comes from for choosing the president. “We, the people” do not directly vote for president. Instead, it is these Electors who vote. It has become tradition that these electors are determined by the way the state’s citizens vote. However, as you can see here, there is the phrase, “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct”. If state legislatures have complete freedom, they can choose some other way to do it… such as having the legislature itself decide rather than the voting populace. This article puts it like this:

“Under the strongest form of this doctrine, all state constitutional provisions that constrain state lawmakers’ ability to skew federal elections would cease to function. State courts would lose their power to strike down anti-democratic state laws, such as a gerrymander that violates the state constitution or a law that tosses out ballots for arbitrary reasons. And state governors, who ordinarily have the power to veto new state election laws, would lose that power. As Justice Neil Gorsuch described this approach in a 2020 concurring opinion in a case concerning the deadline for casting mail-in ballots in Wisconsin, ‘the Constitution provides that state legislatures — not federal judges, not state judges, not state governors, not other state officials — bear primary responsibility for setting election rules.’”

See also this video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7pDPZDkDIY


Therefore, the doomsday scenario goes like this once SCOTUS renders its decision: when it comes time to pick the electors in 2025, states such as Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin could all ignore the votes of “We, the people.” Instead, they pick their slates of electors along party lines in the legislatures of these states. Therefore, the electoral college elects a president determined by the state legislatures, not by “We, the people”.

The way we arrive at a long-term dictatorship looks like this:

  1. These state legislatures all ignore the votes of the people in their states.
  2. Therefore, an illegitimate (according to the popular vote) president is seated.
  3. People who were disenfranchised in these states (and others) protest and/or riot.
  4. The new president declares a state of emergency.
  5. Either there is never a presidential election again because of a permanent state of emergency, or every election in the future follows the same pattern empowered by Moore V. Haarper. In either case, we end up with one-party rule that ignores how the citizens of the United States vote.

It is nearly impossible to imagine that America could become a one-party dictatorship, because America has seemed like a democracy for so long. But then when you consider the rulings that SCOTUS has handed down this year, and what the Moore V. Harper case portends for the Independent State Legislature Doctrine, this doomsday scenario becomes completely believable.

If we take a step back, we see a bigger picture:

  1. Right now, the U.S. Supreme Court already has a supermajority aligned with one party.
  2. As described in Item 26 of my column two weeks ago, the U.S. Senate already is quite disproportional, with no end in sight.
  3. State legislatures will soon be able to gerrymander with impunity, so they can skew to one party.
  4. And then state legislatures will choose the president rather than the popular vote, with the president aligned to the same party.

This really does look like a slam dunk for dictatorship.

Is There Any Way to Prevent a Dictatorship?

Is there any way to prevent a dictatorship from happening to the United States? One way would be to get rid of the electoral college and convert over to a system where the one-person-one-vote popular vote chooses the president. As described in this article, the proper way to accomplish this is by an amendment to the Constitution. But passing an amendment in today’s political environment seems unlikely.

The other alternative that the article suggests is the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). This effort exists, but it is a log way from accomplishing its goal. It seems unlikely it could succeed in time.

The other possibility is for congress and the president to restructure SCOTUS by adding more justices. The number of SCOTUS justices at the federal level can change by passing legislation. To happen in time, this effort would have ideally started in February 2021. It seems unlikely for it to happen now unless a major shift in policy and urgency occurred immediately.

Will America become a dictatorship in 2025? It all seems to hinge on the way that SCOTUS decides the Moore V. Harper case. We will hear the SCOTUS decision in 2023. If SCOTUS decides in favor of Moore, it seems quite likely that democracy collapses and an American dictatorship arrives in 2025.


  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/06/30/supreme-court-federal-elections-state-legislatures/
  2. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/supreme-court/supreme-court-case-voting-rights-experts-say-bring-chaos-elections-rcna34033
  3. https://www.vox.com/23161254/supreme-court-threat-democracy-january-6
  4. https://www.businessinsider.com/what-is-moore-v-harper-supreme-court-case-voting-rights-2022-7
  5. https://lawandcrime.com/supreme-court/election-law-experts-sound-the-alarm-about-extremely-dangerous-voting-rights-case-the-supreme-court-just-agreed-to-hear/
  6. https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/maddowblog/supreme-court-consider-radical-independent-legislature-theory-rcna36301
  7. https://www.politico.com/news/2022/06/30/supreme-court-gop-independent-legislature-theory-reshape-elections-00043471
  8. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2022/06/30/nation/supreme-court-review-state-legislatures-power-federal-elections/
  9. https://apnews.com/article/2022-midterm-elections-us-supreme-court-north-carolina-election-2020-state-courts-712d5aa719884bab9652d3c132ee56c6
  10. https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2022/0701/North-Carolina-appeal-could-reshape-state-power-over-elections
  11. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/supreme-court-hear-redistricting-case-upend-state-election/story?id=86014462
  12. https://www.npr.org/2022/07/04/1109667564/broad-repercussions-are-expected-from-a-supreme-court-voting-case-decision-next
  13. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/07/02/supreme-court-conservative-majority/
  14. https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/moore-v-harper-2/
  15. https://january6th.house.gov/
  16. https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2022/07/06/majority-of-public-disapproves-of-supreme-courts-decision-to-overturn-roe-v-wade/
  17. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/06/21/us/major-supreme-court-cases-2022.html
  18. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGLRJ12uqmk – Gerrymandering, explained
  19. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7pDPZDkDIY – Supreme Court to hear case with major implications for voting rights
  20. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMDQiuaKNts – Judicial Coup? SCOTUS Gerrymandering Case May Let GOP State Legislatures Control Federal Elections
  21. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_man,_one_vote
  22. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2020/12/09/how-to-get-rid-of-the-electoral-college/
  23. https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/packing-the-supreme-court-explained
  24. https://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/trials-appeals-compensation/1004078/adding-supreme-court-justices-can-they-really-do-that
  25. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/07/mitt-romney-republican-denial-biden-election/661468/
  26. https://www.mediaite.com/news/mitt-romney-calls-out-americas-national-malady-of-denial-warns-that-a-return-to-trump-would-render-it-incurable/
  27. https://www.salon.com/2022/06/23/is-american-democracy-already-lost-half-of-us-think-so–but-the-future-remains-unwritten/
  28. https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/contributors/2022/06/22/american-democracy-former-cia-director/7685947001/