GARCIA et al v. 2011 LEGISLATIVE REAPPORTIONMENT COMMISSION et al
MEMORANDUM AND/OR OPINION RE: MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER, PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND PERMANENT INJUNCTION AND FOR CONVENING OF THREE-JUDGE PANEL. SIGNED BY HONORABLE R. BARCLAY SURRICK ON 2/8/2012; 2/8/2012 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED, E-MAILED AND FAXED BY CHAMBERS.(tomg, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
SENATOR DOMINIC PILEGGI, ET AL.
CAROL AICHELE, IN HER OFFICIAL
CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF THE
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
JOE GARCIA, ET AL.
2011 LEGISLATIVE REAPPORTIONMENT
COMMISSION, ET AL.
SAMUEL H. SMITH, IN HIS CAPACITY AS
SPEAKER OF THE PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
CAROL AICHELE, IN HER CAPACITY
AS SECRETARY OF THE COMMONWEALTH :
FEBRUARY 8 , 2012
Presently before the Court are Plaintiffs Senator Dominic Pileggi, Representative Michael
Turzai and Louis B. Kupperman’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary and
Permanent Injunction and for Convening of Three-Judge Panel, Plaintiffs Joe Garcia, Fernando
Quiles and Dalia Rivera Matias’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and for Convening of
a Three-Judge Panel, and Plaintiff Samuel H. Smith’s Motion to Convene a Three-Judge Panel.1
For the following reasons, Plaintiffs’ Motions will be denied.
Pennsylvania Reapportionment Scheme and Election Code
The Pennsylvania Constitution requires reapportionment of the Commonwealth’s districts
for all seats of the Pennsylvania General Assembly once every ten years. Pa. Const. art. II, §
17(a). Any reapportionment plan must comply with the constitutional standard of compact and
contiguous districts, equal in population, without unnecessary divisions of counties or
There are two related actions: Smith v. Aichele, No. 12-488 (filed Jan. 30, 2012)
(“Smith Action”), and Garcia v. 2011 Legislative Reapportionment Commission, No. 12-556
(filed Feb. 2, 2012) (“Garcia Action”) (collectively, “Related Actions”). Plaintiffs from Garcia
v. 2011 Legislative Reapportionment Commission (“Garcia Plaintiffs”) have filed a Motion for
Temporary Restraining Order and for Convening of a Three-Judge Panel. See Garcia Action,
ECF No. 2. In this Memorandum, we incorporate, and address, the arguments asserted in the
Garcia Plaintiffs’ Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and for Convening of a Three-Judge
Panel. Unless otherwise specified, both Motions for Temporary Restraining Order and
Convening of a Three-Judge Panel will be referred to, collectively, as “Plaintiffs’ Motion.”
On February 6, 2012, prior to the hearing on Plaintiffs’ Motion, Senator Jay Costa and
Representative Frank Dermody (“Intervenors”) filed a Motion to Intervene in the instant action,
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24. (Int’vrs’ Mot., ECF No. 11.) In addition,
Intervenors submitted a brief in opposition to Plaintiffs Senator Dominic Pileggi, Representative
Michael Turzai and Louis B. Kupperman’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order,
Preliminary and Permanent Injunction and for Convening of Three-Judge Panel. (Int’vrs’ Br.,
ECF No. 11.) Intevenors also filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint in the instant action,
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Int’vrs’ Dismiss Mot., ECF No. 12.) We
heard argument by Intervenors’ counsel with respect to Plaintiffs’ Motion at the February 6, 2012
hearing. (See Feb. 6 Hr’g Tr. 10.) Intervenors have not filed intervention or dismissal motions in
the two Related Actions.
The February 6, 2012 hearing transcript reflects that the plaintiff Smith from Smith v.
Aichele has joined in Plaintiffs’ Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary and
Permanent Injunction and for Convening of Three-Judge Panel. (See Hr’g Tr. 5, Feb. 6, 2012 (on
file with Court) (“Feb 6 Hr’g Tr.”).) Smith has clarified that he has not joined in that Motion.
municipalities.2 Article II, Section 17(a) requires that a Legislative Reapportionment
Commission (“LRC”) be established to develop a reapportionment plan that complies with these
requirements. The LRC is to consist of five members, four of whom shall be the Majority and
Minority Leaders of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, or deputies appointed by
each of them, and a selected chairman. Pa. Const. art. II, § 17(b).
The LRC has ninety days from the date on which it becomes duly certified or from the
date on which the population data for the Commonwealth as determined by the federal decennial
census become available, whichever is later in time, to file a preliminary reapportionment plan.
Pa. Const. art. II, § 17(c). The public has a thirty-day period to file exceptions to that preliminary
plan. Id. If no exceptions are filed within thirty days, or if exceptions are filed and acted upon,
the LRC’s plan becomes final. Id. Once a plan is final, any aggrieved person may file an appeal
from the final plan directly to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court within thirty days. Pa. Const. art.
II, § 17(d). If an appellant establishes that a final plan is contrary to law, the Supreme Court is
directed to issue an order remanding the plan to the LRC and directing the LRC to reapportion
the Commonwealth in a manner not inconsistent with such order. Id. A reapportionment plan
has the force of law only when the Supreme Court has “finally decided” an appeal, or when the
time for filing an appeal has passed with no appeal being taken. Pa. Const. art. II, § 17(e). Once
Article II, Section 16 of the Pennsylvania Constitution states as follows:
The Commonwealth shall be divided into fifty senatorial and two hundred three
representative districts, which shall be composed of compact and contiguous territory
as nearly equal in population as practicable. Each senatorial district shall elect one
Senator, and each representative district one Representative. Unless absolutely
necessary no county, city, incorporated town, borough, township or ward shall be
divided in forming either a senatorial or representative district.
a reapportionment plan has the force of law, the districts provided in the plan are to be used in
subsequent elections for the General Assembly until the next reapportionment is required. Id.
The Pennsylvania Election Code sets forth certain deadlines. For example, in a
Presidential election year, such as the present year 2012, the primary is to be held on the fourth
Tuesday of April. 25 P.S. § 2753(a). Candidates for all offices to be filled at the ensuing general
election are to be nominated by this primary, and the vote for candidates for the office of
President of the United States is to be cast at the primary. Id. In a Presidential election year,
“every registered and enrolled member of a political party shall have the opportunity at the
Spring primary in such years to vote his preference for one person to be the candidate of his
political party for President.” 25 P.S. § 2862. On or before the thirteenth Tuesday preceding the
primary, the Secretary of the Commonwealth is to (1) provide to the board of each county a list
of the political parties which are to nominate candidates at primaries and (2) send to the county
board a written notice designating all of the offices for which candidates are to be nominated. 25
P.S. §§ 2861, 2865. Not earlier than twelve weeks, nor later than eleven weeks, before the
primary, the county board is to publish in local newspapers a notice setting forth (1) the number
of delegates and alternate delegates to the national convention of each party who are to be elected
in the Commonwealth at large at the ensuing primary, (2) the number of delegates and alternate
delegates who are to be elected at the primary, (3) the names of all public offices for which
nominations are to be made, and (4) the names of all party offices, including that of members of
the National Committee, if any, and Commonwealth Committee, for which candidates are to be
elected at the primary (“Proclamations”). 25 P.S. § 2866. No later than fifty days before the day
of the primary or seventy days before the day of the election, the county board is to commence
sending military and overseas ballots to remote or isolated locations. 25 P.S. § 3146.5(a). No
later than forty-five days before the day of the primary, the county board is to commence
delivering official absentee ballots or special write-in absentee ballots when official absentee
ballots have not yet been printed. Id. Applications for absentee ballots generally are to be
received in the office of the county board not earlier than fifty days before the primary and not
later than 5:00 p.m. of the first Tuesday prior to the day of the primary. 25 P.S. § 3146.2a. The
Code provides for a number of other deadlines in addition to these.
The Parties in the Instant Action
Plaintiffs Dominic Pileggi, Michael Turzai and Louis B. Kupperman are citizens of, and
registered voters in, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶¶ 4-6, ECF No. 1.)3 Pileggi
is a Pennsylvania state Senator, the Majority Leader of the Pennsylvania Senate and a member of
Pennsylvania’s 2011 LRC; Turzai is a Pennsylvania state Representative, the Majority Leader of
the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and a member of Pennsylvania’s 2011 LRC. (Id. at
Defendant Carol Aichele is the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and
Chief Election Official. (Id. at ¶¶ 7-8.) Secretary Aichele’s duties, in her official capacity,
include providing the county boards of elections with written notice of all offices for which
candidates are to be nominated; determining the sufficiency of nominating petitions, certificates
and papers of candidates; certifying to county boards of elections the names of candidates for
primaries and elections; proclaiming election results; and issuing certificates of election to
The facts alleged in Plaintiffs’ Complaint have been verified as true and correct.
successful candidates. (Id. at ¶ 8.)
The 2001 Reapportionment Plan
On November 19, 2001, the existing LRC filed a final reapportionment plan. (Id. at ¶
10.) This plan was approved by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on February 15, 2002 (“2001
Plan”). (Id.) The 2001 Plan was based on census data from 2000 and has been in effect since
approved. (Id. at ¶ 11.)
The 2011 Reapportionment Plan
In 2010, the federal decennial census was conducted. Plaintiffs allege that the data from
this census reveal that, from 2000 to 2010, a population shift from western Pennsylvania to
eastern Pennsylvania was a continuing trend from the 2000 census. (Id. at ¶ 12.)
Pursuant to Article 2, Section 17(a) of the Pennsylvania Constitution, in 2011, the LRC
was assembled for the purpose of reapportioning the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, based on
the 2010 census data. Holt v. 2011 Legislative Reapportionment Comm’n, No. 7 MM 2012 (Pa.
Feb. 3, 2012) (“Pa. Sup. Ct. Op.”) 10. On August 17, 2011, the LRC declared the 2010 census
data to be in usable form, thereby triggering the ninety-day period for filing a preliminary
reapportionment plan. Id. at 11. The LRC announced a preliminary reapportionment plan on
October 31, 2011. Id. at 12. On December 12, 2011, the LRC adopted its final reapportionment
plan for Pennsylvania (“2011 Plan”). Id.4
Following the adoption of the 2011 Plan, twelve separate appeals were filed by
The Garcia Plaintiffs allege that, in 2011, a non-partisan coalition of concerned Latino
voters, called LatinoLines, participated directly in this redistricting process. Compl., Garcia
Action (“Garcia Compl.”) ¶ 31, ECF No. 1. The group submitted proposed plans for
Philadelphia, Lehigh and Berks counties to the 2011 LRC. Id. at ¶ 32.
Pennsylvania citizens claiming to be aggrieved. Pa. Sup. Ct. Op. 12. The Pennsylvania Supreme
Court held oral argument on these challenges on January 23, 2011. Id. at 13. On January 25,
2012, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, issued a per curiam order, in which it
held that the final 2011 Plan was “contrary to law.” Order, Pa. Sup. Ct. Op. (“Pa. Sup. Ct.
Order”) 5. The Supreme Court remanded the 2011 Plan to the LRC and directed it to reapportion
the Commonwealth in a manner consistent with its Opinion, which would follow. Id. The Court
ordered that the 2001 Plan “shall remain in effect until a revised final 2011 Legislative
Reapportionment Plan having the force of law is approved.” Id. at 5-6. The Pennsylvania
Supreme Court has retained jurisdiction until it approves a final constitutional reapportionment
plan. Id. In addition, the Court adjusted several of the 2012 election dates. Id. at 6. On
February 3, 2012, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an eighty-seven-page majority
opinion. Pa. Sup. Ct. Op. Justices Saylor and Eakin each filed concurring and dissenting
opinions, and Justice Orie Melvin filed a dissenting opinion.
The process has begun for moving the 2012 election forward. The Pennsylvania primary
election is still scheduled to be held on April 24, 2012. (Feb. 6 Hr’g Tr. 14.) The first day to
circulate nomination petitions was January 26, 2012. Pa. Sup. Ct. Order 6. Pursuant to the
Pennsylvania Election Code, January 31, 2012 was the first day for counties to publish
Proclamations in the newspaper. 25 P.S. § 2866. February 7, 2012 is the last day on which
counties may publish Proclamations in the local newspapers. Id. February 14, 2012 is the last
day to circulate and file nomination petitions for the offices of President of the United States,
United States Senator, United States Representative, Attorney General, Auditor General, State
Treasurer and Delegate and Alternate to the National Convention. See 25 P.S. §§ 2868, 2873(d).
February 15, 2012 is the first day for circulating and filing nomination papers for independent
candidates of political bodies or candidates of minor political parties for all offices. 25 P.S. §
2913. The Republican National Convention is scheduled to begin on August 27, 2012. See 2012
Republican National Convention, http://gopconvention2012.com/. The Democratic National
Convention is scheduled to begin on September 3, 2012. See 2012 Democratic National
Filing of The Instant Action and Two Related Actions
On January 30, 2012, Samuel H. Smith, in his capacity as Speaker of the Pennsylvania
House of Representatives, filed a lawsuit against Defendant.5 Smith, who is not a member of the
LRC, seeks a declaratory judgment that use of the 2001 Plan in future elections violates the
Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the
Equal Protection provisions of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Smith Compl. ¶¶ 51-62. On
February 3, 2012, Smith filed a Motion to Convene a Three-Judge Panel. Smith Action, ECF No.
On February 2, 2012, Joe Garcia, Fernando Quiles and Dalia Rivera Matias, three
registered Latino voters in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, filed a lawsuit against the 2011
The Speaker, as presiding officer of the House, is directed to issue a writ of election to
fill any vacancy which occurs in the House for the remainder of the legislative term. Generally,
the Speaker is required to issue a writ of election within ten days after a vacancy occurs in the
House. 25 P.S. § 2778. However, this rule does not apply during periods associated with the
legislative reapportionment of the Commonwealth. If a vacancy occurs from the time a
preliminary reapportionment plan is filed by the LRC until a final reapportionment plan “attains
the force of law,” the presiding officer of the House shall have the authority, notwithstanding any
other provisions of law to the contrary, to delay the issuance of a writ of election until ten days
after the date the final plan attains the force of law.” 25 P.S. § 2778a.
LRC, and Defendant, in her capacity as Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and as
Chief Election Officer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Garcia Plaintiffs allege
violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States
Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (“VRA”), as amended, 42 U.S.C. §
1973. Garcia Compl. ¶¶ 50-53. They seek a court order that a new legislative redistricting plan
be timely enacted for the 2012 elections in April and November. Id. at ¶ 2. On February 6,
2012, the Garcia Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and for Convening of
Three-Judge Panel. Garcia Mot., Garcia Action, ECF No. 2.
On February 3, 2012, Plaintiffs filed the instant action, asserting violations of federal and
state constitutional rights and seeking to prevent Defendant, “acting in her official capacity, from
administering the primary election in violation of the ‘one person, one vote’ Constitutional
mandate” through the “Court’s immediate intervention and injunctive relief.” (Compl. ¶¶ 3, 3949.)
The underlying contentions in the Smith, Garcia and instant actions are essentially the
same. All Plaintiffs contend that the 2010 census data expose “the current infirmities of the 2001
Plan, as the state legislative districts delineated in that plan can no longer be said to meet the
equal population requirement established by the United States Constitution as well as the
Pennsylvania Constitution.” (Id. at ¶¶ 12, 20-21.)
Smith asserts that, “[a]ccording to 2010 census statistics, the ‘target population’ — which
is the population that would allow equal apportionment of Pennsylvania residents among its 203
[House] districts — is 62,573 residents per district.” Smith Compl. ¶ 44. These districts
currently vary widely in population. For example, House District 134 has a population of 77,873
residents under the 2001 Plan, which exceeds the 2010 target population by 15,300, or 24.45
percent. Id. at ¶¶ 45-46. District 159 has a population of 51,068 under the 2001 Plan, which
falls short of the 2010 target population by 11,505, or 18.39 percent. Id. at ¶ 47.
The Garcia Plaintiffs allege that, according to the 2010 census, Pennsylvania’s
population is 12,702,379, and Latinos comprise 719,660, or 5.7 percent, of the Commonwealth’s
total population. Garcia Compl. ¶ 24. There are 187,611 Latino residents in Philadelphia, and
Latinos comprise over twelve percent of the city’s population. Id. at ¶ 25. The growth rates of
Latinos have outpaced the overall growth rates of both Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania. Id. at ¶ 26. Specifically, the population of Latino residents in Philadelphia has
grown by more than forty-five percent. Id. In Allentown, there are 118,032 total residents, of
which there are 50,517 Latino residents. Latinos comprise 42.8 percent of the Allentown
population. Id. There are 51,263 Latino residents out of the total population of 88,082 residents
in Reading. Latinos comprise 58.2 percent of the population in Reading. Id. There is currently
only one majority Latino House district, and there are no majority Latino Senate districts. Id. at ¶
28. The Garcia Plaintiffs claim that Latino political representation has not kept pace with the
rapid Latino population growth that the Commonwealth has experienced over the past decade.
Id. at ¶ 29. Thus, both Smith and the Garcia Plaintiffs claim malapportionment. For example,
Senate District 44 is overpopulated by 34,626 persons, for a deviation from the target population,
based upon 2010 census figures, of 13.63 percent. Id. at ¶ 36. Senate District 38, by contrast, is
underpopulated by 40,058 persons, for a deviation of 15.77 percent. Id. House District 13 is
overpopulated by 15,204 persons, for a deviation of 24.3 percent, and House District 24 is
underpopulated by 11,569 persons, for a deviation of 18.498 percent. Id. at ¶ 37.
Like the other plaintiffs, Plaintiffs in the instant action assert that the population of many
of the current Senate districts in southwestern Pennsylvania, as delineated under the 2001 Plan,
fall short of the target Senate district population by more than ten percent, based upon the 2010
census data. (Id. at ¶ 24; see also Smith Compl. ¶ 48.) For example, Senate District 38 falls
short from the target population by 39,773 persons, or 15.7 percent; Senate District 45 by 33,067
persons, or thirteen percent; Senate District 32 by 28,411 persons, or 11.2 percent; Senate
District 47 by 28,259 persons, or 11.1 percent. (Id. at ¶ 24.) By contrast, many Senate districts
in the growing eastern and southeastern regions of the Commonwealth have populations, under
the 2001 Plan, which exceed the target population, based upon the 2010 census data, by ten
percent or more. (Id.) For example, Senate District 44 exceeds the target population by 34,625
persons, or 13.6 percent; Senate District 16 by 34,225 persons, or 13.5 percent; Senate District 28
by 30,414 persons, or twelve percent; Senate District 19 by 26,926 persons, or 10.6 percent. (Id.)
Plaintiffs allege that the current House districts, as delineated under the 2001 Plan, are similarly
out of line with the target population, based on 2010 census figures. (Id. at ¶¶ 25-29.) Plaintiffs
cite as specific examples Pennsylvania House District 159, which exceeds the target population
by 10.9 percent; House District 28, which exceeds the target population by 7.5 percent; and
House District 157, which exceeds the target population by 7.1 percent. (Id. at ¶ 32.) Plaintiffs
also cite as specific examples Pennsylvania Senate District 9, which exceeds the target
population by 9.2 percent; Senate District 40, which exceeds the target population by 0.8 percent;
and Senate District 19, which exceeds the target population by 10.6 percent. (Id. at ¶ 31.)
Plaintiffs assert that, in light of these deviations, many Pennsylvania residents will be “severely
and unconstitutionally under-represented” in the Senate and House. (Id. at ¶¶ 33-34.) They
argue that, if the 2012 elections are administered under the 2001 Plan, the Equal Protection
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and Article I, Sections 1,
5 and 26 and Article II, Section 16 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, will be violated. (Id. at ¶¶
Plaintiffs’ Motion and Intervention
On the afternoon of February 3, 2012, Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion requesting a
temporary restraining order “by a preliminary and permanent injunction enjoining Defendant
from calling, holding, supervising or certifying any forthcoming elections in the Commonwealth
of Pennsylvania using Pennsylvania’s 2001 Legislative Reapportionment Plan.” (Pls.’ Mot. ¶ 3,
ECF No. 2.) Also on that afternoon, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its opinion
declaring the 2011 Plan unconstitutional and remanding the Plan to the 2011 LRC. Pa. Sup. Ct.
On the morning of February 6, 2012, Senator Jay Costa, Minority Leader of the Senate,
and Representative Frank Dermody, Minority Leader of the House, both members of the LRC,
submitted a motion to intervene, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24. (Int’vrs’ Mot.)
In addition, Intervenors submitted a brief in opposition to Plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary
restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunction (Int’vrs’ Br.), as well as a motion to
dismiss Plaintiffs’ Complaint, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Int’vrs’
A hearing on Plaintiffs’ Motion was held on February 6, 2012. At the hearing, counsel
for Smith, Aichele, the Garcia Plaintiffs, Plaintiffs in this instant action and Intervenors
appeared. Counsel presented arguments in support of, or in opposition to, Plaintiffs’ Motion for
Temporary Restraining Order. Counsel for the 2011 LRC did not appear at the February 6, 2012
On February 7, 2012, Plaintiffs in the instant action filed a Reply in further support of
their Motion for Temporary Restraining Order. (Pls.’ Reply, ECF No. 16.)
To date, the LRC has not approved a revised reapportionment plan based upon the 2010
census data, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has not approved a reapportionment plan based
upon 2010 census data.
Preliminary injunctive relief is an “extraordinary remedy” and “should be granted only in
limited circumstances.” Kos Pharm., Inc. v. Andrx Corp., 369 F.3d 700, 708 (3d Cir. 2004). “A
temporary restraining order is a ‘stay put,’ equitable remedy that has its essential purpose the
preservation of the status quo while the merits of the cause are explored through litigation.” J.O.
v. Orange Twp. Bd. of Educ., 287 F.3d 267, 273 (3d Cir. 2002) (citations omitted). The standard
for granting a temporary restraining order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65 is the same
as that for issuing a preliminary injunction. Bieros v. Nicola, 857 F. Supp. 445, 446 (E.D. Pa.
1994). A plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) a likelihood of success on the merits; (2) the
probability of irreparable harm if the relief is not granted; (3) that granting injunctive relief will
not result in even greater harm to the other party; and (4) that granting relief will be in the public
interest. Id. (citing Frank’s GMC Truck Ctr., Inc. v. Gen. Motors Corp., 847 F.2d 100, 102 (3d
Cir. 1988)); see also Allegheny Energy, Inc. v. DQE, Inc., 171 F.3d 153, 158 (3d Cir. 1999)
(setting forth the four elements for demonstrating need for preliminary injunction).
Plaintiffs in the instant action assert violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and Article I, Sections 1, 5 and 26 and
Article II, Section 16 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The plaintiffs in the Related Actions
allege similar violations. See Smith Compl. ¶¶ 51-62 (asserting violation of Equal Protection
Clause of Fourteenth Amendment of United States Constitution and Article I, Sections 1 and 26
(equal protection) and Article I, Section 5 of the Pennsylvania Constitution (free and equal
election)); Garcia Compl. ¶¶ 50-53 (asserting violation of Equal Protection Clause of Fourteenth
Amendment of federal Constitution and violation of Section 2 of the VRA, as amended, 42
U.S.C. § 1973). All Plaintiffs request that the Court intervene in Pennsylvania’s redistricting
scheme and declare that the 2001 Plan may not be used for the 2012 primary election, which is
expected to take place on April 24, 2012. In light of the February 3, 2012 Pennsylvania Supreme
Court opinion, which directs the 2012 election to move forward based on the 2001 Plan, we have
been asked to enjoin Defendant from moving forward with the April 24, 2012 primary election
process. (Feb. 6 Hr’g Tr. 6.)
The Public Interest in an Orderly Election Process and in Voters’
Participation in the 2012 Election—Particularly, the Primary Election in the
Spring of This Presidential Year—Requires Denial of Plaintiffs’ Requested
In Light of the Imminent Primary Election, and the Fact that the Election
Process Has Begun, Use of the 2001 Plan is Permissible Under Reynolds
v. Sims and Its Progeny
Federal courts must act cautiously when asked to interfere with state election matters.
“[T]he ‘Constitution leaves with the States [the] primary responsibility for apportionment of their
federal congressional and state legislative districts.’” Growe v. Emison, 507 U.S. 25, 34 (1993)
(citing U.S. Cons., Art. I, § 2). Reapportionment is primarily for the legislature to consider and
determine; “judicial relief becomes appropriate only when a legislature fails to reapportion
according to federal constitutional requisites in a timely fashion after having had an adequate
opportunity to do so.” Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 586 (1964). “[R]eapportionment is
primarily the duty and responsibility of the State through its legislature or other body, rather than
of a federal court.” Chapman v. Meier, 420 U.S. 1, 27 (1975); see also Scott v. Germano, 381
U.S. 407, 409 (1965) (noting preference for both state legislature and state court to federal courts
as agents of apportionment).
“Equity demands that a federal court stay its hand when judicial relief does not make
sense.” Mac Govern v. Connolly, 637 F. Supp. 111, 116 (D. Mass. 1986). In Reynolds v. Sims,
the Supreme Court discussed the role of federal courts in state legislative apportionment cases.
Specifically, the Court observed that there are “certain circumstances, such as where an
impending election is imminent and a State’s election machinery is already in progress,” in
which a court may withhold the granting of relief, even if the existing apportionment scheme is
found to be invalid. 377 U.S. at 585. The Court advised:
In awarding or withholding immediate relief, a court is entitled to and should
consider the proximity of a forthcoming election and the mechanics and complexities
of state election laws, and should act and rely upon general equitable principles.
With respect to the timing of relief, a court can reasonably endeavor to avoid a
disruption of the election process which might result from requiring precipitate
changes that could make unreasonable or embarrassing demands on a State in
adjusting to the requirements of the court’s decree.
Id.; see also Upham v. Seamon, 456 U.S. 37, 44 (1982) (“It is true that we have authorized
District Courts to order or to permit elections to be held pursuant to apportionment plans that do
not in all respects measure up to the legal requirements, even constitutional requirements.
Necessity has been the motivating factor in these situations.”) (internal citation omitted). Since
the Reynolds decision, a number of federal courts have withheld the granting of relief, and even
dismissed actions, where an election was imminent and the election process had already begun.
See, e.g., Political Action Conference of Ill. v. Daley, 976 F.2d 335, 338-41 (7th Cir. 1992)
(affirming district court’s dismissal of plaintiffs’ complaints alleging Equal Protection and
Section 2 VRA claims for failure to state a claim); Clark v. Marx, No. 11-2149, 2012 WL 41926,
at *7 (W.D. La. Jan. 9, 2012) (denying preliminary injunction, despite the fact that the short
holdover period may have been sufficient to constitute a violation of the Equal Protection Clause,
because “this [wa]s the type of case in which the Supreme Court [in Reynolds] has guided federal
courts to use restraint and decline to grant the immediate relief requested”); Graves v. City of
Montgomery, No. 11-557, 2011 WL 3503133, at *13-15 (M.D. Ala. Aug. 10, 2011) (dismissing
Equal Protection claim and Section 2 VRA claim where “[t]he impending election falls squarely
within the Reynolds time frame of imminency”); Old Person v. Brown, 182 F. Supp. 2d 1002,
1017, 1020 (D. Mont. 2002) (observing Reynolds’ observation of circumstance where impending
election is imminent and entering judgment in favor of defendants with respect to plaintiffs’
Section 2 VRA claim); Cardona v. Oakland Unified Sch. Dist., 785 F. Supp. 837, 843 (N.D. Cal.
1992) (denying motion for preliminary injunction and dismissing action where “[t]he Oakland
election machinery [wa]s already in gear for the June 2, 1992 primary election”).
The facts of this case fall squarely within the Reynolds framework. Pennsylvania’s
primary election is scheduled to be held on April 24, 2012, which is eleven weeks away. The
election process has already begun. The first day to circulate nomination petitions was January
26, 2012. January 31, 2012 was the first day for counties to publish Proclamations in the local
newspapers. Defendant has already spent in excess of three quarters of a million dollars on the
2012 election process. (Feb. 6 Hr’g Tr. 8.) There are election deadlines that are fastapproaching. February 7, 2012 is the last day for counties to publish Proclamations in the local
newspapers. February 14, 2012 is the last day to circulate and file nomination petitions for the
offices of President of the United States, United States Senator, United States Representative,
Attorney General, Auditor General, State Treasurer and Delegate and Alternate to the National
Conventions. See 25 P.S. §§ 2868, 2873(d). The following day, February 15th, is the first day to
circulate and file nomination papers for independent candidates of political bodies or candidates
of minor political parties for all offices. See 25 P.S. § 2913(b).
In Maryland Citizens for a Representative General Assembly v. Governor of Maryland,
429 F.2d 606 (4th Cir. 1970), the plaintiffs sought a declaration that the statute apportioning
Maryland’s General Assembly was unconstitutional and an injunction restraining election
officials from conducting the 1970 primary and general elections. Id. at 607. The district court
denied the requested relief and dismissed the action. The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
affirmed the district court’s decision. Id. Reviewing the Reynolds decision, the Appeals Court
noted the need to consider the consequences of convening a three-judge panel, and of
adjudicating, after presentation of evidence and argument, the constitutionality of an
apportionment plan. Id. at 608-12. It considered the possibility that the court would have to
fashion its own reapportionment plan. Id. It then considered the likelihood that the release of a
new reapportionment plan “close upon the eve of the  deadline for the filing of candidacies”
“would necessarily impose great disruption upon potential candidates, the electorate and the
elective process.” Id. at 610. The Court determined that this was not a situation where the state
adamantly refused to comply with clear constitutional mandates and court orders. Id. To avoid
great disruption to the election process, the Court determined that the injunction requested by the
plaintiffs was not available. Id. at 610-11.
The analysis in Maryland Citizens applies here. There is no indication that the
Commonwealth has adamantly refused to comply with constitutional mandates and court orders.
To the contrary, the LRC has complied with the law, albeit slowly, and has indicated an intention
to unveil a revised 2011 Plan, in compliance with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Order, by
February 22, 2012. In Maryland Citizens, the complaint seeking an injunction was filed only
thirteen weeks prior to the deadline for candidates to file certificates of candidacy. The primary
election was to be held approximately five months after the date of the filing of the complaint.
See id. at 609 (noting that complaint was filed on April 6, 1970, that certificate filing deadline
was thirteen weeks away from that date, that primary election was to be held on September 15,
1970, and that general election was to be held on November 3, 1970). Here, the primary election
is eleven weeks away. In view of this immediacy, we are compelled to have the elections
proceed under the 2001 Plan. In short, this is precisely a case “where an impending election is
imminent and a State’s election machinery is already in progress,” such that a court may
withhold from granting relief, even if the existing apportionment scheme is found to be invalid.
Reynolds, 377 U.S. at 585.
In response to this Court’s inquiry as to the necessity of a temporary restraining order at
this juncture, Plaintiffs in the instant action assert that there are “two unassailable facts that
confirm Plaintiffs’ right to the temporary restraining order that they seek”: (1) use of the 2001
Plan violates the federal Constitution; and (2) the 2001 Plan’s unconstitutionality will not change
with the passage of time. (Pls.’ Reply 2; Feb. 6 Hr’g Tr. 4.) Plaintiffs point to various
population deviations in certain districts as evidence of the unconstitutionality of the 2001 Plan.
Their argument, however, completely ignores the Reynolds principle that, “where an impending
election is imminent and a State’s election machinery is already in progress,” a court may
withhold granting relief, even if the existing apportionment scheme is found to be invalid.
Reynolds, 377 U.S. at 585; see also Graves, 2011 WL 3503133, at *3, 15 (dismissing Equal
Protection claim and Section 2 VRA claim even where three of the existing nine city council
districts were overpopulated by 15.7 percent, 38.7 percent and 21.7 percent, respectively, and
other districts were underpopulated); Cardona, 785 F. Supp. at 843 & n.11 (denying motion for
preliminary injunction and dismissing action even where the maximum deviation was 17.8
Granting a Temporary Restraining Order Will Not Provide Clarity to the
2012 Elections Process and Will Effectively Disenfranchise Voters and
Undermine the Public Interest
During the February 6, 2012 hearing on Plaintiffs’ Motion, Defendant requested “clarity,
speed, and certainty” from the Court with respect to instructions on how to proceed with the 2012
primary election. (Feb. 6 Hr’g Tr. 9.) Unfortunately, at this late date, granting a temporary
restraining order will not provide clarity, speed or certainty. In fact, it will accomplish just the
opposite. Granting a temporary restraining order at this stage will delay the primary election and
potentially disenfranchise Pennsylvania voters.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in its eighty-seven-page majority opinion that the
2011 Plan is unconstitutional and directed the LRC to reapportion the Commonwealth in a
manner consistent with that Court’s Opinion. As a precaution, the Court directed that the 2001
Plan remain in effect until a revised final 2011 Plan has been approved and has the force of law.
While the LRC has stated its intention to deliver a preliminary 2011 Plan later this month, it is,
of course, entirely possible that the Plan will not be ready by that date. And even if the
preliminary Plan is completed later this month, in light of the exceptions, corrections and appeals
processes, the date of final approval of the revised 2011 Plan will run up against the April 24th
primary election date.6 In the meantime, what is the Secretary of the Commonwealth to do.
To enjoin the 2012 election from proceeding under the 2001 Plan would leave the
Pennsylvania primary in a state of unacceptable uncertainty. Perhaps this is why the Supreme
Court directed that the 2001 Plan be used. In Mac Govern v. Connolly, the District Court denied
injunctive relief and dismissed the complaint based upon failure to state a claim because equity
demanded that the “federal court stay its hand whe[re] judicial relief ma[de] no sense.” 637 F.
Supp. at 116. The district court justified its determination by noting that an injunction would not
“obviate the Commonwealth’s obligation, under its own constitution, to reapportion based on
[the most recent] census. Court intervention at this point, then, would not only cause the
dislocation that accompanies any reapportionment, it might well cause it twice.” Id. The
principle in Mac Govern v. Connolly that federal courts should stay their hand where judicial
intervention does nothing to clarify, at best, and could cause further confusion and disorder, at
worst, applies here. See also Donatelli v. Mitchell, 2 F.3d 508, 518 (3d Cir. 1993) (affirming
If the LRC took just two days to release its revised plan on or until February 24, 2012,
individuals have 30 days to correct that plan or until March 25, 2012. Assuming that the plan
becomes final on that day, the appeals process ends on April 24, 2012, primary election day.
This does not even allow for Supreme Court action on any appeals.
grant of summary judgment in favor of Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania because
it was not the court’s place to determine whether the commission’s decisions with respect to the
challenged senatorial reapportionment plan were good decisions). With election deadlines
quickly approaching, and no existing alternative reapportionment plan, Defendant needs certainty
as to how to proceed. There is no reasonable alternative at this point but to allow the elections to
proceed under the 2001 Plan.
To complicate matters further, 2012 is a Presidential election year. In Pennsylvania,
during the year of a Presidential nomination, the primary is to be held on the fourth Tuesday of
April. 25 P.S. § 2753. The Pennsylvania Code states that, “[i]n the years when candidates for
the office of President of the United States are to be nominated, every registered and enrolled
member of a political party shall have the opportunity at the [s]pring primary in such years to
vote his preference for one person to be the candidate of his political party for President.” 25
P.S. § 2862.
If a revised plan is completed by February 22nd, in light of the exceptions, corrections
and the appeals processes, the date for final determination as to the legality of that Plan will run
up against the April 24th primary election date.7 Clearly, the primary would have to be
postponed so that the Secretary of the Commonwealth and other election officials could fulfill
their statutory obligations. Since the Republican National Convention is scheduled to begin on
August 27, 2012 and the Democratic National Convention is scheduled to begin on September 3,
Indeed, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court directly addressed this time lag in its majority
opinion: “We note that once the LRC approves a new preliminary plan, the Constitution affords
persons aggrieved by the new plan a right to object, before the plan is finally approved by the
LRC, and to a subsequent right to appeal to this Court. Should such appeals be filed, we will
decide them with alacrity, as we have decided the ones now before us.” Pa. Sup. Ct. Op. 87 n.40.
2012, it is imperative that the primary election occur on or as close to April 24, 2012 as possible.
In sum, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has directed that, in lieu of a constitutional
revised reapportionment plan, the 2012 election should proceed using the 2001 Plan. At this
time, there has been no action taken to change the date of the primary. We can only speculate as
to whether or when there will be a constitutionally approved reapportionment plan based upon
the 2010 census. Because there is presently no alternative plan, if we issue a temporary
restraining order and request a three-judge panel, the primary election certainly will not occur as
required by statute. Depending on what happens with the LRC, Pennsylvania voters could be
disenfranchised. See Diaz v. Silver, 932 F. Supp. 462, 468-69 (E.D.N.Y. 1996) (listing cases
holding that, because there does not appear to be any alternative redistricting plan readily
available, the harm to the public in delaying either the primary or the general election, or even
changing the rules as they now stand, substantially outweighs the likely benefit to the plaintiffs of
granting a preliminary injunction). A delayed election this year could deprive Pennsylvania
voters of their right to choose delegates to the National Conventions and their candidate for the
Presidency of the United States. Cf. Graves, 2011 WL 3503133, at *14 (noting deprivation of
voters’ right to replace public officials whose terms are soon to expire).8
No party or intervenor in this action, or party in a Related Action, denies that voters are
entitled to a periodic reapportionment process. We understand Plaintiffs’ concerns about the use
of the 2001 Plan for the 2012 election. However, when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
Defendant’s counsel notes that, regardless of the Court’s decision, “[t]here will be an
election” although it may not occur until July or August. (Feb. 6 Hr’g Tr. 37.) He observes that
“[t]here are states in this country that don’t vote until September in their primary.” (Id.)
However, because this is a Presidential year, voters are entitled to vote in spring of this year.
determined that the LRC’s final 2011 Plan was unconstitutional and remanded the matter so that
the LRC could prepare a revised constitutional 2011 Plan, a situation that was fraught with
uncertainty and was potentially disastrous was created. The Supreme Court attempted to
stabilize the situation when it directed that the 2001 Plan be used. Under these unique
circumstances, we are compelled to conclude that the election should proceed under the onlyexisting plan, the 2001 Plan. The granting of a temporary restraining order at this juncture would
make no sense. Clearly, it would not be in the public interest. Accordingly, we will deny
Plaintiffs’ Request for Three-Judge Panel Will Be Denied
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2284(b)(3), a single judge “shall not appoint a master, or order a
reference, or hear and determine any application for a preliminary or permanent injunction or
motion to vacate such an injunction, or enter judgment on the merits.” This limitation on a single
district judge’s authority to hear and determine a preliminary or permanent injunction application
is triggered only in proceedings in which the convening of a three-judge district court is required.
Page v. Bartels, 248 F.3d 175, 186 (3d Cir. 2001). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2284(a), “[a] district
court of three judges shall be convened . . . when an action is filed challenging the
constitutionality of the apportionment of congressional districts or the apportionment of any
statewide legislative body.”
In view of the imminent primary election and the fact that the election process has already
begun, use of the 2001 Plan is permissible under Reynolds and its progeny. The injunctive relief
that Plaintiffs request—intervention by this Court to stop Defendant from moving forward with
the April 24, 2012 primary election process—is not a reasonable option. Plaintiffs, therefore, are
not entitled to a three-judge panel. See California Water Serv. Co. v. City of Redding, 304 U.S.
252, 255 (1938) (noting that a federal question “may be plainly unsubstantial” “because its
unsoundness so clearly results from the previous decisions of this court as to foreclose the subject
and leave no room for the inference that the questions sought to be raised can be the subject of
controversy” and that “when it becomes apparent that the plaintiff has no case for three judges,
though they may have been properly convened, their action is no longer prescribed”) (citing
Oklahoma Gas & Elec. Co. v. Oklahoma Packing Co., 292 U.S. 386, 391 (1934)); Maryland
Citizens, 429 F.2d at 611 (“If it appears to the single district judge, therefore, that the complaint
does not state a substantial claim for injunctive relief, he need not request the convening of a
For all of these reasons, Plaintiffs’ Motions are denied.
An appropriate Order follows.
BY THE COURT:
R. BARCLAY SURRICK, J.
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