United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING APPLICATION FOR THREE-JUDGE
Page Hood Chief Judge.
the Court is Plaintiffs' Application for Three-Judge
Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2284(a). On December 22,
2017, Plaintiff League of Women Voters of Michigan, along
with several named-Plaintiffs, filed a Complaint for
Declaratory and Injunctive Relief against Defendant Ruth
Johnson, in her official capacity as Secretary of State for
the State of Michigan.
challenge the Current Apportionment Plan because they claim
their constitutional rights have been violated as alleged in
the two counts in their Complaint: Count I - First Amendment
and Count II - Equal Protection. Plaintiffs seek a
three-judge court to be appointed under 28 U.S.C. 2284(a).
statute, 28 U.S.C. § 2284 provides,
(a) A district court of three judges shall be convened when
otherwise required by Act of Congress, or when an action is
filed challenging the constitutionality of the apportionment
of congressional districts or the apportionment of any
statewide legislative body.
(b) In any action required to be heard and determined by a
district court of three judges under subsection (a) of this
section, the composition and procedure of the court shall be
(1) Upon the filing of a request for three judges, the judge
to whom the request is presented shall, unless he determines
that three judges are not required, immediately notify the
chief judge of the circuit, who shall designate two other
judges, at least one of whom shall be a circuit judge. The
judges so designated, and the judge to whom the request was
presented, shall serve as members of the court to hear and
determine the action or proceeding.
28 U.S.C. §§ 2284(a) and (b)(1).
legislative reapportionment case, the district court must
invoke the procedures established in 28 U.S.C. § 2284
for convening a three-judge panel. Armour v. The State of
Ohio, 925 F.2d 987, 988 (6th Cir. 1991). “[O]nce
it becomes clear that there exists a non-frivolous
constitutional challenge to the apportionment of a statewide
legislative body, ” the jurisdictional requirement to
convene a three-judge court under § 2284(a) is met.
Id. at 989. The test for
“non-frivolousness” requires the district court
originally assigned to the matter determine whether a
substantial constitutional claim exists as a prerequisite to
the convening of a three-judge court.” Id. The
sufficiency of a claim is based on the allegations of the
complaint and a claim is unsubstantiated only when it is
obviously without merit or clearly determined by previous
case law. Id. The district judge initially assigned
to the matter has a limited jurisdiction to determine whether
such a case shall be heard by one judge or three judges.
Id. The language of § 2284 “is
mandatory” and that the district court must make the
initial determination of non-frivolousness, and if it so
finds, the three-judge panel procedure must be followed.
undersigned's initial review of the Complaint shows that
Plaintiffs have sufficiently stated allegations that their
constitutional rights under the First Amendment and the Equal
Protection Clause were violated.
allege that “Michigan's durable and severe partisan
gerrymander of state legislative and congressional districts
violates individual Plaintiffs' First Amendment free
speech and association rights and Fourteenth Amendment equal
protection rights.” (Complaint, Doc. No. 1, Pg ID 2)
Plaintiffs further allege that “[t]he 2011 Michigan
redistricting process was a particularly egregious example of
partisan gerrymandering, ” claiming that
“Congressional and state legislative districting plans
were developed in a private, secret process by Republican
consultants, legislative staff and legislators to the
exclusion of Democrats and the public.” (Id.,
Pg ID 2-3)
state that the Michigan Legislature enacts new districting
plans by statute after every 10-year census. (Id.,
Pg ID 11) Plaintiffs assert that S.B. 498 and H.B. 4780,
revealed to the public on June 17, 2011, were signed into law
on August 9, 2011. (Id., Pg ID 11, 13) S.B. 498 sets
forth the district lines for the election of both houses of
the Michigan Legislature (“Current House Plan” or
“Current Senate Plan”). (Id. Pg
Id. 13) H.B. 4780 sets forth the congressional
district lines ...