Supreme Court rules in Colorado redistricting, jurisdiction cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] handed down decisions in two cases Monday, including Lance v. Coffman, where the Court concluded that four Republican voters in Colorado did not have standing to challenge a court-ordered congressional redistricting plan. A state judge in Colorado drew up a redistricting plan in 2002 when the state legislature was unable to agree on a plan in time for elections that year. The legislature drew up a plan in 2003 [map], but that plan was rejected [DOC text] by the Colorado Supreme Court because the state constitution allows for a new plan only once per decade. The state supreme court held that "judicially-created districts are just as binding and permanent as districts created by the General Assembly." The redistricting plan was subsequently challenged by four voters, who argued that their rights had been violated under the Elections Clause of the US Constitution, which states that the "Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Senators." The US Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs did not have standing, writing:

The only injury plaintiffs allege is that the law - specifically the Elections Clause - has not been followed. This injury is precisely the kind of undifferentiated, generalized grievance about the conduct of government that we have refused to countenance in the past. It is quite different from the sorts of injuries alleged by plaintiffs in voting rights cases where we have found standing. [citations omitted] Because plaintiffs assert no particularized stake in the litigation, we hold that they lack standing to bring their Elections Clause claim.
Read the Court's per curiam opinion [PDF text]. AP has more.

In Sinochem International Co. v. Malaysia International Shipping Corp. [Duke Law case backgrounder] the Court held that a federal district court is not required to determine whether it has subject matter or personal jurisdiction in a case before determining whether to dismiss a case for forum non conveniens. Malaysia International Shipping Corp. filed a lawsuit against Sinochem in federal court in Pennsylvania and Sinochem argued that the case should be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction and because Chinese admiralty court was a more convenient forum to resolve the dispute between the two companies. The court dismissed the lawsuit based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens before determining whether it in fact had personal jurisdiction over Sinochem. The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed the lower court [opinion, PDF], ruling that the district court should have determined the jurisdiction question before dismissing the lawsuit. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding "that a district court has discretion to respond at once to a defendant's forum non conveniens plea, and need not take up first any other threshold objection." Read the Court's unanimous opinion [PDF text] per Justice Ginsburg. AP has more.

 

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