The Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed this Brief of Amicus Curiae Virginia State Conference of the NAACP in the US Supreme Court. The Court is considering a case which will determine whether voting rights plaintiffs in statewide redistricting cases have the right to a three-judge court to hear their claims. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a single judge could dismiss a constitutional challenge to a statewide redistricting plan. We argue that the Fourth Circuit should follow every other circuit and agree to appoint three-judge panels in every such case.
As friend of the court, the Virginia NAACP pointed out that “The shortcomings of single-judge determinations, and the need for protection at the procedural-motion stage, are apparent in the recent dispositions of cases in which a three-judge court has been requested in the Fourth Circuit. Since 2010, a three-judge court has been requested in ten voting rights cases in the Fourth Circuit. In four of those ten cases, the request for a three-judge court was denied. In three of the four cases in which a three-judge court was denied, the case was subsequently dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) by a single judge. By permitting a single judge to dispose of voting rights cases where the parties are statutorily entitled to resolution by a three-judge court, the Fourth Circuit is failing to protect voting rights litigants and to provide them the benefits Congress intended in enacting the Three-Judge Court Act.”
The Virginia NAACP itself was recently denied the right to intervene in a congressional redistricting case by a single judge who just days earlier had allowed other parties to intervene in the case.