Shapiro v. McManus (U.S. Supreme Court)
This is a case about when a special three-judge district court must be convened to hear particularly important voting-rights lawsuits. Section 2284 of Title 28 of the U.S. Code provides that “[a] district court of three judges” shall hear cases, among others, that “challenge the constitutionality of the apportionment of congressional districts.” The single judge to whom the case is initially referred can decline to convene a three-judge court, however, if “he determines that three judges are not required.” In Goosby v. Osser, 409 U.S. 512 (1973), the Supreme Court held that Section 2284 “does not require the convening of a three-judge court when the [claim] is insubstantial.” Id. at 518. A claim is insubstantial when it is “obviously frivolous” or “inescapably” meritless. Id. at 518-519. The question presented in this apportionment case is whether a single-judge district court may “determine that three judges are not required” on the basis that the complaint fails to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). We filed a petition for certiorari, which the Supreme Court granted in June. We briefed and argued the case, winning a swift 9-0 victory for our client.