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Shapiro v. McManus

Justia Summary

Petitioners, a bipartisan group of citizens, requested that a three-judge court be convened to consider their claim that Maryland’s 2011 congressional redistricting plan burdens their First Amendment right of political association. The district court dismissed the action, concluding that no relief could be granted. The Fourth Circuit affirmed. The Court held that 28 U.S.C. 2284 entitles petitioners to make their case before a three-judge court because, under section 2284(a), the present suit is indisputably an action challenging the constitutionality of the apportionment of congressional districts. The Court further held that the subsequent provision of section 2284(b)(1), that the district judge shall commence the process for appointment of a three-judge panel “unless he determines that three judges are not required,” should be read not as a grant of discretion to the district judge to ignore section 2284(a), but as a compatible administrative detail. The Court went on to say that this conclusion is bolstered by section 2284(b)(3)’s explicit command that “[a] single judge shall not . . . enter judgment on the merits.” Finally, the Court held that respondents' alternative argument, that the District Judge should have dismissed petitioners' claim as "constitutionally insubstantial" under Goosby v. Osser, is unpersuasive. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded.

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