United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
HONORABLE GORDON J. QUIST, United States District Judge
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF
HONORABLE ERIC L. CLAY, UNITED STATES CIRCUIT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant's Motion to Stay and to Dismiss
for Lack of Standing.[Dkt. No. 11.] On March 14, 2018, this
Court issued an order severing and disposing of the portion
of Defendant's motion that requested a stay of
proceedings. [Dkt. No. 35.] The remainder of Defendant's
motion, which we refer to as Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss for Lack of Standing, is now fully briefed and
argued. For the reasons that follow, we GRANT IN PART and
DENY IN PART Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of
December 22, 2017, the League of Women Voters of Michigan,
along with several individuals, (collectively
“Plaintiffs”) filed a Complaint for Declaratory
and Injunctive Relief [Dkt. No. 1] against Defendant Ruth
Johnson, in her official capacity as Secretary of State for
the State of Michigan. Plaintiffs challenge Michigan's
current apportionment plan, which was implemented by the
state legislature as Michigan Public Act 129 of 2011.
Plaintiffs bring claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and
1988, alleging that the current apportionment plan violates
Plaintiffs' constitutional rights under the First
Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment. Plaintiffs challenge the current apportionment
plan “district by district and in its entirety.”
[Dkt. No. 1, Compl. ¶ 36, at PageID #16.]
invokes Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
to challenge this Court's subject matter jurisdiction.
Specifically, Defendant argues that Plaintiffs lack standing
on the face of their complaint. Defendant distinguishes
between Plaintiffs' attempts to challenge the current
apportionment plan on a statewide basis and on a district by
district basis, focusing the majority of her arguments on
Plaintiffs' statewide claims. We agree with Defendant
that Plaintiffs lack standing to bring their claims on a
statewide basis. However, we reject Defendant's arguments
that Plaintiffs lack standing to bring their claims on a
district by district basis.
Standard of Review
12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for
the dismissal of an action for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. “A Rule 12(b)(1) motion for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction can challenge the sufficiency of
the pleading itself (facial attack) or the factual existence
of subject matter jurisdiction (factual attack).”
Cartwright v. Garner, 751 F.3d 752, 759 (6th Cir.
2014). A facial attack, raised here, “goes to the
question of whether the plaintiff has alleged a basis for
subject matter jurisdiction, and the court takes the
allegations of the complaint as true for purposes of Rule
12(b)(1) analysis.” Id.
includes three constitutional requirements: ‘a
plaintiff must show: (1) it has suffered an injury in fact
that is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or
imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical; (2) the injury is
fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant;
and (3) it is likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that
the injury will be redressed by a favorable
decision.'” Wuliger v. Manufacturers Life Ins.
Co., 567 F.3d 787, 793 (6th Cir. 2009). “A
plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating standing and must
plead its components with specificity.” Id.
(quoting Am. Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, Inc. v.
Taft, 385 F.3d 641, 645 (6th Cir. 2004)).
Standing of Individual Plaintiffs
first argues that the individual Plaintiffs lack standing to
bring their claims on a statewide basis, asserting that the
injuries the individual Plaintiffs allege are
“necessarily district specific.” [Dkt. No. 20 at
PageID #194.] In other words, Defendant argues that
Plaintiffs' alleged injuries are traceable only to their
districts and not to the apportionment plan as a whole. The
Supreme Court has not provided guidance regarding the
geographic nature of political gerrymandering injuries. In
two separate cases, the Supreme Court has analyzed political
gerrymandering claims and found that the plaintiffs had
failed to articulate a satisfactory method of measuring and
redressing their claimed injuries. See generally Vieth v.
Jubelirer, 541 U.S. 267 (2004); Davis v.
Bandemer, 478 U.S. 109, 113 (1986). Neither case
resolved the question now before this Court.
the Supreme Court recently analyzed the nature of a
plaintiff's injury in the analogous context of racial
gerrymandering. In Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v.
Alabama, 135 S.Ct. 1257, 1262, 1265 (2015), the Supreme
Court reviewed a challenge to Alabama's redistricting
plan for both houses of the Alabama legislature. Justice
Breyer, writing for the majority, opened his analysis by
examining the “geographic nature of the racial
The District Court repeatedly referred to the racial
gerrymandering claims as claims that race improperly
motivated the drawing of boundary lines of the State
considered as a whole.
A racial gerrymandering claim, however, applies to the
boundaries of individual districts. It applies
district-by-district. It does not apply to a State considered
as an undifferentiated “whole.” We have
consistently described a claim of racial gerrymandering as a
claim that race was improperly used in the drawing of the
boundaries of one or more specific electoral districts. We
have described the plaintiff's evidentiary burden
Our district-specific language makes sense in light of the
nature of the harms that underlie a racial gerrymandering
claim. Those harms are personal. They include being
“personally ... subjected to [a] racial classification,
” as well as being represented by a legislator who
believes his “primary obligation is to represent only
the members” of a particular racial group. They
directly threaten a voter who lives in the district attacked.
But they do not so keenly threaten a voter who lives
elsewhere in the State. Indeed, the latter voter normally
lacks standing to pursue a racial gerrymandering claim.
Voters, of course, can present statewide evidence in order to
prove racial gerrymandering in a particular district. And
voters might make the claim that every individual district in
a State suffers from racial gerrymandering. But this latter
claim is not the claim that the District ...