The U.S. Supreme Court has revived a challenge by some Maryland residents to their state’s 2011 redrawing of its congressional districts, ruling unanimously Tuesday that the case was thrown out prematurely. The court said federal law requires that the Maryland case be heard by a panel of three judges, not the lone judge who dismissed the challenge. Writing in an eight-page opinion for the court, Justice Antonin Scalia said the law “could not be clearer.” The group of three residents originally sued in 2013 arguing that the new district map, which enabled Democrats to pick up an additional seat in Congress, was irrational and violated their First Amendment and other rights.
The justices did not address the substance of the complaint Tuesday, ruling only that a three-judge panel must consider it. In summarizing the case, Scalia wrote that the residents sued because they were “dissatisfied with the crazy-quilt results” of the redistricting. Scalia said the case “easily clears” the “low bar” to be referred to a three-judge panel.
“Perhaps petitioners will ultimately fail on the merits of their suit,” Scalia wrote, but he added that federal law “entitles them to make their case before a three-judge district court.”