O. JOHN BENISEK, ET AL., APPELLANTS
LINDA H. LAMONE, ADMINISTRATOR, MARYLAND STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS, ET AL.
APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT
appeal arises from the denial of a motion for a preliminary
injunction in the District Court. Appellants are several
Republican voters, plaintiffs below, who allege that
Maryland's Sixth Congressional District was gerrymandered
in 2011 for the purpose of retaliating against them for their
2017, six years after the Maryland General Assembly redrew
the Sixth District, plaintiffs moved the District Court to
enjoin Maryland's election officials from holding
congressional elections under the 2011 map. They asserted
that "extend[ing] this constitutional offense"-
i.e., the alleged gerrymander-"into the 2018
election would be a manifest and irreparable injury."
Record in No. l:13-cv-3233, Doc. 177-1, p. 3. In order to
allow time for the creation of a new districting map,
plaintiffs urged the District Court to enter a preliminary
injunction by August 18, 2017. Id., at 32.
August 24, 2017, the District Court denied plaintiffs'
motion and stayed further proceedings pending this
Court's disposition of partisan gerrymandering claims in
Gill v. Whitford, No. 16-1161. 266 F.Supp.3d 799.
The District Court found that plaintiffs had failed to show a
likelihood of success on the merits sufficient to warrant a
preliminary injunction. Id., at 808-814. The
District Court also held that it was "in no position to
award [p]laintiffs the remedy they . . . requested on the
timetable they . . . demanded." Id., at 815.
The court explained that, notwithstanding its "diligence
in ruling on the pending preliminary injunction motion (which
has been a priority for each member of this panel), "
plaintiffs' proposed August deadline for injunctive
relief had "already come and gone." Ibid.
addition, the District Court emphasized that it was concerned
about "measuring the legality and constitutionality of
any redistricting plan in Maryland . . . according to the
proper legal standard." Id., at 816. In the
District Court's view, it would be "better equipped
to make that legal determination and to chart a wise course
for further proceedings" after this Court issued a
decision in Gill. Ibid. Plaintiffs ask this Court to
vacate the District Court's order and remand for further
consideration of whether a preliminary injunction is
note our jurisdiction and review the District Court's
decision for an abuse of discretion, keeping in mind that a
preliminary injunction is "an extraordinary remedy never
awarded as of right." Winter v. Natural Resources
Defense Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008). As a
matter of equitable discretion, a preliminary injunction does
not follow as a matter of course from a plaintiff's
showing of a likelihood of success on the merits. See
id., at 32. Rather, a court must also consider whether
the mov-ant has shown "that he is likely to suffer
irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that
the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an
injunction is in the public interest." Id., at
made no such showing below. Even if we assume-contrary to the
findings of the District Court- that plaintiffs were likely
to succeed on the merits of their claims, the balance of
equities and the public interest tilted against their request
for a preliminary injunction.
a party requesting a preliminary injunction must generally
show reasonable diligence. Cf. Holmberg v.
Armbrecht, 327 U.S. 392, 396 (1946). That is as true in
election law cases as elsewhere. See Lucas v.
Townsend, 486 U.S. 1301, 1305 (1988) (KENNEDY, J., in
chambers); Fishman v. Schaffer, 429 U.S. 1325, 1330
(1976) (Marshall, J., in chambers). In this case, appellants
did not move for a preliminary injunction in the District
Court until six years, and three general elections, after the
2011 map was adopted, and over three years after the
plaintiffs' first complaint was filed.
argue that they have nevertheless pursued their claims
diligently, and they attribute their delay in seeking a
preliminary injunction to the "convoluted procedural
history of the case" and the "dogged refusal to
cooperate in discovery" by state officials. Reply Brief
22. Yet the record suggests that the delay largely arose from
a circumstance within plaintiffs' control: namely, their
failure to plead the claims giving rise to their request for
preliminary injunctive relief until 2016. Although one of the
seven plaintiffs before us filed a complaint in 2013 alleging
that Maryland's congressional map was an unconstitutional
gerrymander, that initial complaint did not present the
retaliation theory asserted here. See Amended Complaint, Doc.
11, p. 3 (Dec. 2, 2013) (explaining that the gerrymandering
claim did not turn upon "the reason or intent of the
legislature" in adopting the map).
not until 2016 that the remaining plaintiffs joined the case
and filed an amended complaint alleging that Maryland
officials intentionally retaliated against them because of
their political views. See 3 App. 640-643. Plaintiffs'
newly presented claims-unlike the gerrymandering claim
presented in the 2013 complaint-required discovery into the
motives of the officials who produced the 2011 congressional
map. See, e.g., Memorandum of Law in Support of
Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel, Doc. Ill- 1, p. 3 (Jan. 4,
2017) (describing plaintiffs' demand that various state
officials "testify . . . and answer questions concerning
legislative intent"). It is true that the assertion of
legislative privilege by those officials delayed the
completion of that discovery. See Joint Motion To Extend
Deadlines for Completion of Fact Discovery and Expert Witness
Disclosures, Doc. 161, pp. 1-2 (Mar. 3, 2017); Joint Motion
To Extend Deadlines for Completion of Fact Discovery and
Expert Witness Disclosures, Doc. 170, pp. 1-2 (Mar. 27,
2017). But that does not change the fact that plaintiffs
could have sought a preliminary injunction much earlier. See
Fishman, supra, at 1330. In considering the balance
of equities among the parties, we think that plaintiffs'
unnecessary, years-long delay in asking for preliminary
injunctive relief weighed against their request.
a due regard for the public interest in orderly elections
supported the District Court's discretionary decision to
deny a preliminary injunction and to stay the proceedings.
See Purcell v. Gonzalez, 549 U.S. 1, 4-5 (2006)
(per curiam). Plaintiffs themselves represented to
the District Court that any injunctive relief would have to
be granted by August 18, 2017, to ensure the timely
completion of a new districting scheme in advance of the 2018
election season. Despite the District Court's
undisputedly diligent efforts, however, that date had
"already come and gone" by the time the court ruled
on plaintiffs' motion. 266 F.Supp.3d, at 815. (Such
deadline has also, of course, long since passed for purposes
of entering a preliminary injunction on remand from this
of this time constraint was the legal uncertainty surrounding
any potential remedy for the plaintiffs' asserted injury.
At the time the District Court made its decision, the appeal
in Gill was pending before this Court. The District
Court recognized that our decision in Gill had the
potential to "shed light on critical questions in this
case" and to set forth a "framework" by which
plaintiffs' claims could be decided and, potentially,
remedied. 266 F.Supp.3d, at 815-816. In the District
Court's view, "charging ahead" and adjudicating
the plaintiffs' claims in that fluctuating legal
environment, when firmer guidance from this Court might have
been forthcoming, would have been a mistake. Id., at
816. Such a determination was within the sound discretion of
the District Court. Given the District Court's decision
to wait for this Court's ruling in Gill before
further adjudicating plaintiffs' claims, the court
reasonably could have concluded that a preliminary injunction
would have been against the public interest, as an injunction
might have worked a needlessly "chaotic and disruptive
effect upon the electoral process, " Fishman,
supra, at 1330, and because the "purpose of a
preliminary injunction is merely to preserve the relative