Shapiro v. Mack

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: First Amendment
  • Date Filed: June 8, 2015
  • Case #: 14-990.
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: O. John Benisek v. Bobbie Mack 584 F. App’x 140 (4th Cir. 2014)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether a single district judge may decide not to convene a three-judge panel to dismiss a claim challenging the constitutionality of a congressional redistricting plan.

Petitioners are a bipartisan group of voters in Maryland challenging the reapportionment of Congressional Districts in Maryland on the grounds it violates their First Amendment rights. A single district court judge dismissed petitioner’s case on a 12(b)(6) motion for failing to state a claim.

The Three-Judge Court Act requires a three-judge court for certain types of cases, including challenges to redistricting. However, the judge assigned to the case may decide that a three-judge court is unnecessary if the case is “insubstantial”. Petitioners argue that based on the recurring and serious nature of reapportionment cases, their claim was not obviously “frivolous” and it was an error not to convene a three-judge court to determine if the case should be dismissed.

Respondents argue the claim was properly dismissed by the district court, and further assert that this case fails to present a unique challenge to political reapportionment.

The Supreme Court granted the petition to determine when three judges are necessary.

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