Benisek v. Lamone
Plaintiffs filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland on November 5, 2013 challenging the congressional redistricting plan enacted by the Maryland General Assembly following the 2010 Census. In the complaint, plaintiffs claimed the district plan was a partisan gerrymander which violated the right to representation guaranteed by Article 1 Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, and the First Amendment’s protection of political association.
A district judge dismissed the case in April 2014 for failure to state a claim, but did so without convening a three-judge panel. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit summarily affirmed the lower court’s decision not to convene a three-judge panel, and the plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On December 8, 2015, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the decisions of the lower courts, holding that they had been too dismissive of the plaintiffs’ partisan gerrymandering claims. Writing for the Court, Justice Antonin Scalia stated that the law “could not be clearer” in requiring that a three-judge panel be convened in cases challenging a statewide district plan. The only exceptions to the rule are the rare cases where a claim is “essentially fictitious” or “obviously frivolous.” The Court said the partisan gerrymandering claims in the Maryland case, which were based in part on First Amendment theories of liability, “easily cleared [that] low bar.”
The case is now before a three-judge panel in the Maryland district court. Plaintiffs’ claims center on the unconstitutionality of Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, in which voters elected a Republican in the 2010 election but which has consistently been represented by a Democrat since it was redrawn in 2011.
On August 24, 2016, the three-judge panel issued a 2-1 opinion denying the state defendants' motion to dismiss the case, and the parties proceeded with pretrial discovery.
On May 31, the plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction or, in the alternative, summary judgment. The state filed a cross-motion for summary judgment and opposed the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction on June 30.
On August 24, the district court denied the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction blocking use of the maps. The court also entered an order staying any further proceedings in the case pending a decision by the Supreme Court in Gill v. Whitford. The plaintiffs filed an appeal on August 25 asking the Supreme Court to review the decision not to enjoin the map.
On September 13, the Supreme Court denied the plaintiffs' request to expedite the appeal.
On December 8, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal. Oral argument at the Supreme Court is expected to take place in late March.
Supreme Court Documents
- Jurisdictional Statement (September 1, 2017)
- Motion to Expedite Consideration of Appellants' Jurisdictional Statement and for Expedited Merits Briefing and Oral Argument in the Event that the Court Notes or Postpones Probable Jurisdiction (September 1, 2017)
- Order Denying Motion to Expedite (September 13, 2017)
- Motion to Affirm (October 31, 2017)
- Brief Opposing Motion to Affirm (November 13, 2017)
- Order (December 8, 2017)
District Court Documents
- Plaintiffs’ Original Complaint (Nov. 5, 2013)
- Plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint (Dec. 2, 2013)
- Plaintiffs’ Second AmendedComplaint (Mar. 3, 2016)
- Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (April 20, 2016)
- Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Motion to Dismiss (May 20, 2016)
- Amicus Brief of Brennan Center for Justice in Support of Plaintiffs (May 20, 2016)
- Amicus Brief of Campaign Legal Center (May 20, 2016)
- Amicus Brief of Common Cause (May 20, 2016)
- Opinion on the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Aug. 24, 2016)
- Defendants' Answer to Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint (September 7, 2016)
- Memorandum and Order (January 31, 2017)
- Joint Motion to Extend Deadlines for Completion of Fact Discovery and Expert Witness Disclosures (March 3, 2017)
- Order Granting Motion for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery (March 3, 2017)
- Joint Motion to Extend Deadlines for Completion of Fact Discovery and Expert Witness Disclosures (March 27, 2017)
- Order Granting Motion for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery (March 28, 2017)
- Joint Motion to Extend Deadlines for Certain Expert Witness Disclosures (May 2, 2017)
- Joint Motion for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery (May 31, 2017)
- Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction (May 31, 2017)
- Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction (May 31, 2017)
- Order Granting Motion for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery (June 1, 2017)
- Joint Status Report (June 2, 2017)
- Defendants' Motion to Extend Time to File Their Response in Opposition to the Motion for Preliminary Injunction and to File a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgement (June 5, 2017)
- Order (June 8, 2017)
- Order to Set a Hearing on the Motion for Preliminary Injunction and the Question to Stay All Proceedings in light of Gill v. Whitford (June 28, 2017)
- Defendants' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (June 30, 2017)
- Memorandum in Support of Defendants' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment and Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction (June 30, 2017)
- Order (July 6, 2017)
- Plaintiffs' Reply in Support of Their Motion for a Preliminary Injunction and Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgement (July 10, 2017)
- Reply in Support of Defendants' Motion for Cross-Summary Judgement (August 1, 2017)
- Memorandum (August 24, 2017)
- Order Denying Request for Preliminary Injunction (August 24, 2017)
- Order Entering Stay (August 24, 2017)
- Notice of Appeal (August 25, 2017)
Earlier US Supreme Court Documents
Before Granting Certiorari
- Petition for a Writ of Certiorari
- Amicus Brief of Judicial Watch in Support of Petitioners
- Brief for Respondents in Opposition to the Petition
- Reply Brief for Petitioners
After Granting Certiorari
- Brief for Petitioners
- Amicus Brief of Common Cause and The Campaign Legal Center in Support of Petitioners
- Amicus Brief of Virginia State Conference of the NAACP in Support of Petitioners
- Amicus Brief of Judicial Watch
- Amicus Brief of Election Law Scholars
- Brief for Respondents
- Reply Brief for Petitioners
- US Supreme Court Opinion Reversing and Remanding