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Lamone v. Benisek

On May 20, the Brennan Center filed a brief supporting the plaintiffs’ opposition to the motion to dismiss. The case was formerly known as Shapiro v. McManus.

Published: July 29, 2019

View our extensive coverage of
Gerrymandering at the Supreme Court.

Case Background

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.”

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, 2017 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.  

The Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case on March 28, 2018. 

On June 18, 2018, the Court affirmed the district court’s decision not to enjoin the map, holding that the district court’s denial was not abuse of discretion. 

On remand, the district court heard oral argument on the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment on October 4, 2018.

On November 7, 2018, the court granted the plaintiffs’ request to permanently block further use of the 2011 plan and ordered new maps be drawn for the 2020 elections. The court ruled that it will appoint a three-person commission headed by a magistrate judge to redraw the congressional map if the state does not submit a valid plan by March 7, 2019.

On November 15, 2018, the defendants appealed the panel’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, and on November 16, secured a stay of the panel’s order pending appeal. On January 4, 2019, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the defendants’ appeal. The Court heard oral argument on March 26.

On June 27, 2019, the Court vacated the decision below and remanded the case for dismissal, holding that partisan gerrymandering claims are nonjusticiable. On August 9, 2019, the court dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction.


District Court (Initial Proceedings)

U.S. Supreme Court (2015 Appeal)

Before Granting Certiorari

After Granting Certiorari

District Court (on remand)

U.S. Supreme Court (2017 Appeal)

Jurisdictional Stage

Merits Stage

Amicus Briefs in Support of Appellants

Amicus Briefs in Support of Neither Party

Amicus Briefs in Support of the Appellees 

District Court (on remand)  

U.S. Supreme Court (2018 Appeal)

Jurisdictional Stage

Merits Stage

Amicus Briefs in Support of the Appellants

Amicus Briefs in Support of Neither Party

Amicus Briefs in Support of the Appellees