Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: June 17, 2019
  • Case #: 18-281
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: GINSBURG, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which THOMAS, SOTOMAYOR, KAGAN, and GORSUCH, JJ., joined. ALITO, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and BREYER and KAVANAUGH, JJ., joined.
  • Full Text Opinion

An intervening party to a litigation must, in its own right, meet all the elements of standing to appeal a decision which the primary party does not wish to challenge.

In 2011, Virginia redrew its legislative districts for Petitioner and the State’s Senate. Voters sued Virginia for violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, stating that the districts were “racially gerrymandered.” After two bench trials, the district court held that the state unconstitutionally redrew the districts based on race. The Attorney General of the State announced Virginia had no interest in appealing. Petitioner intervened and appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court held that Petitioner has no standing to bring the appeal in federal court. For an intervenor to appeal where the primary party has no interest, it must demonstrate that the three elements of standing apply particularly to itself. Because the Attorney General represents the interest of the State, Petitioner must demonstrate how it was independently injured. The Court states that a judicial decision to invalidate a state law does not impose an independent injury on each branch of government that played a role in creating the law. Therefore, it is not enough that Petitioner was involved in the redrawing of the districts to allow it to appeal the district court’s decision on behalf of the State. DISMISSED.

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