Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bouchat v. State

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 7, 2016

STATE OF MARYLAND, et al., Defendants.

          Christopher Eric Bouchat, Woodbine, Maryland, pro se, for plaintiff.

          Julia Doyle Bernhardt and Jeffrey Lewis Darsie, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MARYLAND, Baltimore, Maryland, for defendants.

          Before Niemeyer, Circuit Judge, and Hollander and Russell, District Judges; Judge Hollander wrote the Opinion, in which Judges Niemeyer and Russell joined.

          Ellen Lipton Hollander Judge.

         Christopher Eric Bouchat, the self-represented plaintiff, challenges the constitutionality of Maryland's most recent legislative redistricting plan, which was proposed in 2011 and went into effect in February 2012 (the “Plan” or the “2012 Plan”). See Joint Resolutions 1 and 2, Acts of 2012; Md. Code (1984, 2004 Repl. Vol.), §§ 2-201, 2-202 of the State Government Article (“S.G.”); see also S. G. §§ 2-201, 2-202 (2014 Repl. Vol., 2015 Supp.); In the Matter of 2012 Legislative Districting of the State, 436 Md. 121, 128, 80 A.3d 1073, 1076-1077 (2013). Plaintiff has named as defendants the State of Maryland; Linda H. Lamone, State Administrator of Elections; and David J. McManus, Jr., Chair of the Maryland State Board of Elections (collectively, the “State”).[1] According to Mr. Bouchat, the Plan violates his constitutional rights, both as a voter and as an unsuccessful Republican candidate in 2014 for the Maryland House of Delegates. ECF 31, Amended Complaint, ¶ 26.[2]

         Defendants have moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint, which is supported by a memorandum. ECF 32; ECF 32-1 (collectively, “Motion” or “Motion to Dismiss”). Citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), they assert that the Amended Complaint fails to state a claim; it is barred by res judicata; and the claims lodged against the State, and most of the claims asserted against its officials, are barred by the Eleventh Amendment and principles of sovereign immunity. Plaintiff opposes the Motion. ECF 35 (“Opposition”). Defendants have not filed a reply and the time to do so has expired. See Local Rule 105.2(a).

         A three-judge panel, convened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2284, heard argument on the Motion on July 12, 2016. See Shapiro v. McManus, ___U.S.___, 136 S.Ct. 450 (2015). For the reasons set forth below, we shall grant the Motion to Dismiss.

         I. Factual Background[3]

         Article III, § 5 of the Maryland Constitution requires that, in the second year following each United States Census, the Governor and the State Legislature shall “reapportion the State's legislative representation consistent with the State's current demographics.” In the Matter of 2012 Legislative Districting of the State, 436 Md. 121, 126, 80 A.3d 1073, 1075 (2013) (hereinafter, “Legislative Districting”). Article III, § 5 of the Maryland Constitution states, in part: “Following each decennial census of the United States and after public hearings, the Governor shall prepare a plan setting forth the boundaries of the [State's 47] legislative districts for electing of the members of the Senate and the House of Delegates.” The plan must conform with Sections 2, 3, and 4 of Article III. Id. at 127, 80 A.3d at 1076.

         Accordingly, in 2011, then Governor Martin O'Malley appointed five individuals to serve on the Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee (“GRAC”), for the purpose of holding public hearings concerning the proposed redistricting of Maryland's congressional and legislative districts and the drafting of a proposed redistricting plan.[4] On December 16, 2011, after twelve public hearings, the GRAC published its plan for the State's 47 legislative districts. Legislative Districting, 436 Md. at 128, 80 A.3d at 1076. During the 2012 session of the Maryland General Assembly, the Plan was submitted for approval to both the Maryland House of Delegates and the Maryland Senate as Joint Resolution No. 1. Id., 80 A.3d at 1076-77. The Plan became law on February 24, 2012, codified as revisions to S.G. §§ 2-201 and 2-202. ECF 31, Amended Complaint, ¶¶ 11-12; Legislative Districting, 436 Md. at 127, 80 A.3d at 1077.

         In anticipation of challenges to the newly enacted Plan, the Maryland Court of Appeals appointed Judge Alan M. Wilner, a retired member of that court, as a Special Master to conduct hearings and to address any challenges. Legislative Districting, 436 Md. at 129, 80 A.3d at 1077. A handful of challenges to the Plan were filed by the deadline of May 1, 2012, including a Petition filed by Mr. Bouchat in April 2012 (the “Petition”). Id. at 129, 138, 80 A.3d at 1077, 1082.

         Mr. Bouchat is a resident of Carroll County, Maryland (ECF 31, ¶ 1), and is a “Republican-registered voter.” Id. ¶ 8. Before the 2012 Plan took effect, he resided in Legislative District 9B, comprised of constituents living only in Carroll County and represented by a single member of the House of Delegates. Id. ¶ 13. After enactment of the 2012 Plan, Mr. Bouchat's residence was redistricted to Legislative District 9A, which plaintiff describes as a “cross-county two-member district. . . .”, including both Carroll and Howard counties. Id. ¶ 10.

         In his Petition, Mr. Bouchat argued, inter alia, that based on several constitutional principles, the Maryland Court of Appeals should “requir[e] that all delegates be elected from single-member districts”; “prohibit[] House of Delegates subdistricts from crossing county lines”; and “requir[e] that each county be entitled to one Delegate and that all other Delegate seats be apportioned according to population.” Legislative Districting, 436 Md. at 138-39, 80 A.3d at 1082-83. He also complained that the Plan violated Article IV, § 4 of the Federal Constitution, and relied, inter alia, on Article 1, §§ 2 and 3 of the United States Constitution, as well as Article II, § 1 and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution. Id. at 139, 80 A.3d at 1083.

         In September 2012, the Special Master held a hearing to consider all challenges to the Plan. Id. at 129, 80 A.3d at 1077. Evidence was presented, including expert reports. Id. Thereafter, the Special Master issued a report in which he recommended upholding the Plan.

As to Mr. Bouchat, the Special Master said, in part, id. at 139-143, 80 A.3d at 1083-85:
“Mr. Bouchat's first argument, that the structure of Congress directed in Article I, §§ 2 and 3 of the U.S. Constitution is a required template for the States, is without merit. The text of those provisions, by their clear wording, apply only to the structure of Congress and do not purport in any way to control the structure of State legislatures, much less to require a State legislative apportionment that would produce significant population disparities or to require single-member districts that do not cross county lines. Apart from the lack of any such textual requirement, the Supreme Court, in Reynolds v. Sims, supra, 377 U.S. 533, 84 S.Ct. 1362, 12 L.Ed.2d 506 expressly rejected “the applicability of the so-called federal analogy to state legislative apportionment arrangements, ” holding that “the Founding Fathers clearly had no intention of establishing a pattern or model for the apportionment of seats in state legislatures when the system of representation in the Federal Congress was adopted.” Id. at 572-73, 84 S.Ct. at 1387, 12 L.Ed.2d at 534-35.
Nor does the guaranty of a republican form of government in Article IV, § 4 of the U.S. Constitution create a Federal Constitutional basis for judicial relief. See Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 218-24, 82 S.Ct. 691, 710-13, 7 L.Ed.2d 663, 686- 89 (1962), where the Supreme Court flatly rejected Article IV, § 4 as a basis for judicial review of a State's legislative apportionment plan. See also New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144, 184, 112 S.Ct. 2408, 2432, 120 L.Ed.2d 120, 155 (1992).
The Federal Constitution constraints on State legislative districting are those arising from the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the principal one being the ‘one person/one vote' requirement announced in Reynolds v. Sims, under which, as this Court iterated in Matter of Legislative Districting, supra, 370 Md. at 325, 805 A.2d at 299, “the states are required to apportion both houses of their legislatures on an equal population basis, to assure that one citizen's vote is approximately equal in weight to that of every other citizen.” (Emphasis added).
* * *
Unless the size of the House of Delegates were to be expanded five to ten-fold, any requirement that each county be entitled to one Delegate would be doomed for the same reason. See Maryland Committee, supra. As Article III, §§ 2 and 3 of the Maryland Constitution provide for 141 members of the House of Delegates, to be elected from 47 Legislative Districts, three from each district, and as there is no Federal Constitutional impediment to that provision, the apportionment of the House of Delegates on any basis other than substantial equality of population is impermissible.
Finally, in his petition, Mr. Bouchat contends that multi-member Delegate districts are prohibited under Federal Constitutional law and that, to the extent they may be permitted, they may not cross county lines.
* * *
The Supreme Court, on a number of occasions, has expressed concern over certain undesirable features of multi-member districts, especially as they may dilute the ability of racial or ethnic minorities in such districts to elect members of their group to legislative office. So far, however, the Court has made clear that such a district is not per se unlawful under the Equal Protection Clause. The clearest expression of the Court's ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.