Parrott et al v. Lamone et al

Filing 30

OPINION. Signed by Judge George Levi Russell, III on 8/24/2016. (jnls, Deputy Clerk)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND NEIL PARROTT, et al., Plaintiffs, v. LINDA H. LAMONE, et al., Defendants. * * * * * * * * * * * Civil Action No. GLR-15-1849 Robert D. Popper, Chris Fedeli, and Lauren M Burke, JUDICIAL WATCH, INC., Washington, D.C., for Plaintiffs. Julia Doyle Bernhardt and Jeffrey Lewis Darsie, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MARYLAND, Baltimore, Maryland, for Defendants. Filed: August 24, 2016 Before Niemeyer, Circuit Judge, and Bredar and Russell, District Judges: OPINION OF THE THREE-JUDGE COURT Judge Russell wrote the opinion in which the Court concluded it does not have subject-matter jurisdiction over this action because Plaintiffs do not have standing to pursue their claims. RUSSELL, District Judge: Plaintiffs (“Voters”)1 challenge the constitutionality of Maryland’s 2011 congressional redistricting law under Article I, § 2 of the United States Constitution and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. 1 Pending before the Court Voters consist of one voter from each of Maryland’s eight congressional districts. They include: Neil Parrott, Ann Marvin, Lucille Stefanski, Eric Knowles, Faith Loudon, Matt Morgan, Ellen Sauerbrey, and Kerinne August. is Defendants’, Linda H. Lamone, in her official capacity as the State Administrator of Elections, and David J. McManus, Jr., in his official capacity as Chairman of the Maryland State Board of Elections (collectively, the “State”), Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 7). The Motion is ripe for disposition. For the reasons outlined below, the Court will grant the Motion. I In October 2011, following the 2010 decennial census, the Maryland General Assembly enacted a congressional redistricting plan (the “Plan”), establishing the districts to be used for the election of Maryland’s eight representatives in the United States House of Representatives. et seq. (West 2016). See Md.Code Ann., Elec. Law §§ 8–701 Following its enactment, the Plan has been subject to numerous challenges.2 On June 24, 2015, Voters brought the instant challenge, arguing the Plan is an unconstitutional political 2 gerrymander3 that transfers the power to select See, e.g., Benisek v. Mack, 11 F.Supp.3d 516 (D.Md.), aff’d, 584 F.App’x 140 (4th Cir. 2014), cert. granted sub nom. Shapiro v. Mack, 135 S.Ct. 2805 (2015), and rev’d and remanded sub nom. Shapiro v. McManus, 136 S.Ct. 450 (2015); Olson v. O’Malley, No. WDQ-12-0240, 2012 WL 764421 (D.Md. Mar. 6, 2012); Gorrell v. O’Malley, No. WDQ-11-2975, 2012 WL 226919 (D.Md. Jan. 19, 2012); Fletcher v. Lamone, 831 F.Supp.2d 887 (D.Md. 2011), aff’d, 133 S.Ct. 29 (2012). 3 “The term ‘political gerrymander’ has been defined as ‘the practice of dividing a geographical area into electoral districts, often of highly irregular shape, to give one political party an unfair advantage by diluting the opposition's voting 2 representatives from the people -- all Maryland voters -- to the Maryland General Assembly. (ECF No. 1). On July 20, 2015, the State filed a Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(c), 12(b)(1), and 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 7). Voters submitted an Opposition on September 21, 2015 (ECF No. 13), and the State filed a Reply on October 21, 2015 (ECF No. 17). In accordance with Shapiro v. McManus, 136 S.Ct. 450 (2015) and 28 U.S.C. § 2284 (2012), the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit designated a three-judge court to hear the State’s Motion to Dismiss. (ECF Nos. 21, 22). hearing on July 12, 2016. The three-judge court conducted a (ECF No. 29). II A The State advances two principal arguments for why the Court should dismiss Voters’ claims. First, Voters lack standing because they allege a generalized grievance on behalf of all Maryland voters. Second, Voters fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because their claims are not justiciable. The Court begins by reviewing the threshold issue of standing. strength.’” Vieth v. Jubelirer, 541 U.S. 267, 271 n.1 (2004) (quoting Black’s Law Dictionary 696 (7th ed. 1999)). 3 Motions to dismiss for lack of standing are governed by Rule 12(b)(1), which pertains to subject matter jurisdiction. See CGM, LLC v. BellSouth Telecomm’s, Inc., 664 F.3d 46, 52 (4th Cir. 2011). A defendant challenging a complaint under Rule 12(b)(1) may advance a “facial challenge, asserting that the allegations in the complaint are insufficient to establish subject matter jurisdiction, or a factual jurisdictional allegations of challenge, the asserting complaint [are] ‘that not the true.’” Hasley v. Ward Mfg., LLC, No. RDB-13-1607, 2014 WL 3368050, at *1 (D.Md. July 8, 2014) (alteration in original) (quoting Kerns v. United States, 585 F.3d 187, 192 (4th Cir. 2009)). Here, because the State raises a facial challenge, the Court will [they] afford would Voters receive “the under same a procedural Rule 12(b)(6) protection as consideration.” Kerns, 585 F.3d at 192 (quoting Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982)). As such, the Court will take the facts in Voters’ Complaint as true and deny the State’s Rule 12(b)(1) Motion to Dismiss if the Complaint alleges sufficient facts to invoke subject matter jurisdiction. Id. B Article III of the United States Constitution limits the judicial authority “Controversies.” of federal courts to “Cases” and U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1; Spokeo, Inc. 4 v. Robins, 2016). 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016), as revised (May 24, Thus, the threshold question in every federal case is whether the court has authority under Article III to entertain the suit. Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498 (1975). apply the standing doctrine to resolve this question. Courts Bishop v. Bartlett, 575 F.3d 419, 423 (4th Cir. 2009). The party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing standing. Id. at 424 (citing FW/PBS, Inc. v. City of Dallas, 493 U.S. 215, 231 (1990)). general factual allegations of “At the pleading stage, injury resulting from the defendant’s conduct may suffice, for on a motion to dismiss [a court] presume[s] that general allegations embrace those specific facts that are necessary to support the claim.” Id. (quoting Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992)). must dismiss an action when the party invoking The Court federal jurisdiction does not include the necessary allegations in the pleading. Id. (citing McNutt v. Gen. Motors Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 189 (1936)). The standing doctrine comprises constitutional and prudential components. Id. at 423 (citing Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 751 (1984)). To satisfy the constitutional component, a party must have suffered an injury in fact that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant and likely 5 to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision. S.Ct. at 1547 (citing Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560–61). Robins, 136 “To establish injury in fact, a plaintiff must show that he or she suffered ‘an invasion of a legally protected interest’ that is ‘concrete and particularized’ and ‘actual or imminent, not conjectural hypothetical.’” Id. at 1548 (quoting Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560). or A “particularized” injury is an injury that affects the plaintiff “in a personal and individual way.” at 560 n.1). A “concrete” injury is one that is not abstract and actually exists. Id. To be concrete for purposes of standing, an injury need not be tangible. As for Id. (quoting Lujan, 504 U.S. the prudential Id. at 1549. component of standing, courts generally recognize three circumstances under which a party does not have standing: (1) when the party asserts a harm that “is a ‘generalized grievance’ shared in substantially equal measure by all or a large class of citizens,” Bishop, 575 F.3d at 423 (quoting Warth, 422 U.S. at 499); (2) when the party “rest[s] his claim to relief on the legal rights or interests of third parties,” id. (quoting Warth, 422 U.S. at 499); and (3) when the party’s grievance does not “arguably fall within the zone of interests protected or regulated by the statutory provision or constitutional guarantee invoked in the Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154, 162 (1997)). 6 suit,” id. (quoting That an injury is widely shared does not necessarily mean that the injury is a “generalized grievance” precluding standing. A widely shared injury can be an injury in fact, but only if the injury is concrete. Id. at 424–25 (quoting FEC v. Akins, 524 U.S. 11, 24 (1998)). The deprivation of the right to vote is a concrete injury notwithstanding Akins, 524 that can that the at 24). U.S. constitute injury is Examples an injury widespread. of widely in Id. shared fact (citing abstract injuries that do not confer standing include injuries to the “common concern for obedience to the law,” Akins, 524 U.S. at 23 (quoting L. Singer & Sons v. Union Pac. R. Co., 311 U.S. 295, 303 (1940)), and injuries to “the public’s interest in the administration of the law,” id. at 24 (quoting Perkins v. Lukens Steel Co., 310 U.S. 113, 125 (1940)). Throughout their Complaint, Voters consistently allege they are asserting a harm that all Maryland voters endure. (See Compl. ¶ 31, ECF No. 1) (alleging Voters “are suing as Maryland voters for injuries . . . that all Maryland voters endure because of the egregious districts”); (id. gerrymandering ¶ 35) of the (“Maryland’s State’s congressional gerrymander harms all Maryland voters, regardless of their party preferences or how they would vote in a particular election[.]”); (id. ¶ 36) (“Maryland’s gerrymander inflicts particular, intentional harm on 7 partisan and non-partisan voters of every description[.]”). Voters, however, do not allege that the Plan has deprived all Maryland voters elections. of Instead, their right Voters to assert vote that in the congressional Plan harms all Maryland voters because it mechanically manipulates Maryland’s congressional districts in a manner that transfers the power to select representatives from the people to the Maryland General Assembly. While this alleged harm is not as concrete as the deprivation of the right to vote, the Court concludes that at this pleading stage, this harm is adequately concrete and particularized. To sufficiently allege standing, however, Voters must assert more than a concrete and particularized injury -- they must also allege “an invasion of a legally protected interest.” 136 S.Ct. at 1548 (quoting Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560). Robins, Voters do not cite any cases, and the Court’s exhaustive search reveals none, in which a court expressly held that the Constitution protects the right to reside in a district that has not been mechanically manipulated to transfer the power to select representatives away from the people. Voters have not unequal population. alleged the Plan created districts of Nevertheless, they rely on Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962), Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1 (1964), and 8 Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964) (the “One Person, One Vote Cases”), arguing they stand for more than the proposition that congressional populations. districts within a state must have equal Voters assert that “properly understood, [the One Person, One Vote Cases] stand for the principle that legislators and their agents may not manipulate districts to arrogate to themselves the power reserved to the people of choosing their legislators.” 13). (Pls.’ Opp’n Mot. Dismiss [“Opp’n”] at 12, ECF No. Voters further contend that these cases “should be understood as a set of practical constitutional limitations on legislators’ ability to entrench notwithstanding the wishes of voters.” In Baker, allegations of the United disparities States of themselves power (Opp’n at 15). Supreme population districts raise justiciable claims. in Court in state held that legislative 369 U.S. at 206, 237. Two years later, in Wesberry, the Court applied Baker to strike down Georgia’s congressional district plan because districts comprising vastly disparate populations. 5, 18. it created 376 U.S. at The Court held that the constitutional requirement that representatives be chosen “by the People of the several States,” U.S. Const. art. I, § 2, “means that as nearly as is practicable one man’s vote in a congressional election is to be worth as much as another’s.” Wesberry, 376 U.S. at 7–8. 9 The Court explained that the Constitution’s “plain objective” is to make “equal representation for equal numbers of people the fundamental goal for the House of Representatives.” That same year, in state legislative Id. at 18. Reynolds, the Court applied districts, invalidating malapportioned House and Senate districts. U.S. at 577 (1964). The Baker Court held to Alabama’s See Reynolds, 377 that “as a federal constitutional requisite both houses of a state legislature must be apportioned on a population basis,” meaning that states must “make an honest and good faith effort to construct districts, in both houses of its legislature, as nearly of equal population as is practicable.” Id. The plaintiffs’ claims in the One Person, One Vote Cases all centered on the population disparities in legislative districts. See Baker, 369 U.S. at 192–93; Reynolds, 377 U.S. at 540. reading those cases as Wesberry, 376 U.S. at 2–3; That fact alone militates against establishing that the Constitution protects the right to reside in districts that have not been mechanically manipulated. What is more, nothing in the language of the One Person, One Vote Cases suggests that the Court should apply those cases to claims not asserting unequal population. As such, the Court rejects Voters’ reading of the One Person, One Vote Cases, finding it untenable. 10 In sum, Voters fail to identify a constitutional provision or case that establishes a right to reside in a district that has not been mechanically manipulated in a manner that transfers the power to elect representatives away from the people. Court concludes standing to alleged an that assert Voters their invasion of have claims a not because legally Thus, the sufficiently have they protected alleged have not interest.4 Accordingly, the Court will grant the State’s Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. III For the foregoing reasons, the State’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 7) is GRANTED. Voters’ Complaint (ECF No. 1) is DISMISSED, and the Court will direct the Clerk to CLOSE this case. A separate Order follows. Entered this 24th day of August, 2016 /s/ _____________________________ George L. Russell, III United States District Judge 4 Because the Court concludes that Voters standing, the Court need not determine whether claims upon which relief may be granted. 11 do not have Voters state

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