The Three-Judge District Court in Voting Rights Litigation

In recent Terms the Supreme Court has heard numerous appeals from the decisions of three-judge district courts in controversial Voting Rights Act cases as well as in challenges to congressional districts designed allegedly to facilitate the election of members of minority groups. Although the cases themselves have been followed closely, the institution of the three-judge district court itself has received relatively little attention, even though Congress passed legislation in 1976 that restricted the three-judge court’s jurisdiction to reapportionment and certain Voting Rights Act cases. In this Article, Professor Solimine argues that numerous problems attend the formation and operation of such courts. He reviews both structural problems and administrative problems. He concludes that the court should be abolished, permitting a single district judge to consider the cases currently litigated before such courts with normal appellate review thereafter. He considers alternative reforms and critically examines proposals to expand the current jurisdiction of three-judge district courts.