US Supreme Court Decisions On-Line | US Laws

§ 2284. —  Threejudge district court; when required; composition; procedure.

[Laws in effect as of January 24, 2002]
[Document not affected by Public Laws enacted between
  January 24, 2002 and December 19, 2002]
[CITE: 28USC2284]

Sec. 2284. Three-judge court; when required; composition; 
    (a) A district court of three judges shall be convened when 
otherwise required by Act of Congress, or when an action is filed 
challenging the constitutionality of the apportionment of congressional 
districts or the apportionment of any statewide legislative body.
    (b) In any action required to be heard and determined by a district 
court of three judges under subsection (a) of this section, the 
composition and procedure of the court shall be as follows:
    (1) Upon the filing of a request for three judges, the judge to whom 
the request is presented shall, unless he determines that three judges 
are not required, immediately notify the chief judge of the circuit, who 
shall designate two other judges, at least one of whom shall be a 
circuit judge. The judges so designated, and the judge to whom the 
request was presented, shall serve as members of the court to hear and 
determine the action or proceeding.
    (2) If the action is against a State, or officer or agency thereof, 
at least five days' notice of hearing of the action shall be given by 
registered or certified mail to the Governor and attorney general of the 
    (3) A single judge may conduct all proceedings except the trial, and 
enter all orders permitted by the rules of civil procedure except as 
provided in this subsection. He may grant a temporary restraining order 
on a specific finding, based on evidence submitted, that specified 
irreparable damage will result if the order is not granted, which order, 
unless previously revoked by the district judge, shall remain in force 
only until the hearing and determination by the district court of three 
judges of an application for a preliminary injunction. A single judge 
shall not appoint a master, or order a reference, or hear and determine 
any application for a preliminary or permanent injunction or motion to 
vacate such an injunction, or enter judgment on the merits. Any action 
of a single judge may be reviewed by the full court at any time before 
final judgment.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 646, 62 Stat. 968; Pub. L. 86-507, Sec. 1(19), June 
11, 1960, 74 Stat. 201; Pub. L. 94-381, Sec. 3, Aug. 12, 1976, 90 Stat. 
1119; Pub. L. 98-620, title IV, Sec. 402(29)(E), Nov. 8, 1984, 98 Stat. 

                      Historical and Revision Notes

    Based on title 28, U.S.C., 1940 ed., Secs. 47, 47a, 380, 380a, and 
792 (Mar. 3, 1911, ch. 231, Secs. 210, 266, 36 Stat. 1150, 1162; Mar. 4, 
1943, ch. 160, 37 Stat. 1013; Oct. 22, 1913, ch. 32, 38 Stat. 220; Feb. 
13, 1925, ch. 229, Sec. 1, 43 Stat. 938; Aug. 24, 1937, ch. 754, Sec. 3, 
50 Stat. 752; Apr. 6, 1942, ch. 210, Sec. 3, 56 Stat. 199).
    Provisions of sections 47, 47a, 380, and 380a of title 28, U.S.C., 
1940 ed., relating to the Supreme Court's jurisdiction of direct appeals 
appear in section 1253 of this title.
    Provisions of sections 47, 380, and 380a of title 28, U.S.C., 1940 
ed., requiring applications for injunctions restraining the enforcement, 
operation or execution of Federal or State statutes or orders of the 
Interstate Commerce Commission to be heard and determined by three-judge 
district courts appear in sections 2281, 2282, and 2325 of this title.
    The provision for notice to the United States attorney for the 
district where the action is pending was added because of the necessity 
of the United States attorney's preparation for hearing as soon as 
possible, to expedite such a case.
    Provisions of sections 47, 47a, 380, and 380a of title 28, U.S.C., 
1940 ed., respecting time for direct appeal appear in section 2101 of 
this title.
    This revised section represents an effort to provide a uniform 
method of convoking three-judge district courts, and for procedure 
therein. It follows recommendations of a committee appointed by the 
Judicial Conference of the United States, composed of Circuit Judges 
Evan A. Evans, Kimbrough Stone, Orie L. Phillips, and Albert B. Maris.
    The committee pointed out that section 380a of title 28, U.S.C., 
1940 ed., is the latest and ``most carefully drawn expression by 
Congress on the subject.'' Consequently, this section follows closely 
such section 380a and eliminates the discrepancies between sections 47, 
47a, 380, and 380a of such title.
    This section governs only the composition and procedure of three-
judge district courts. The requirement that applications for injunctions 
be heard and determined by such courts will appear in other sections of 
this and other titles of the United States Code as Congress may enact 
from time to time. For example, see sections 2281, 2282, and 2325 of 
this title, sections 1213, 1215, 1255 of title 11, U.S.C., 1940 ed., 
Bankruptcy, section 28 of title 15, U.S.C., 1940 ed., Commerce and 
Trade, and section 44 of title 49, U.S.C., 1940 ed., Transportation.
    United States District Judge W. Calvin Chestnut, has referred to the 
provisions relating to enforcement or setting aside or orders of the 
Interstate Commerce Commission as unfortunately lengthy and prolix. He 
has urged revision to insure uniform procedure in the several classes of 
so-called three-judge cases.
    The provision that such notice shall be given by the clerk by 
registered mail, and shall be complete on the mailing thereof follows, 
substantially, rules 4(d)(4) and 5(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil 
    Changes were made in phraseology.

                       References in Text

    The rules of civil procedure, referred to in subsec. (b)(3), are set 
out in the Appendix to this title.


    1984--Subsec. (b)(2). Pub. L. 98-620 struck out provision that the 
hearing had to be given precedence and held at the earliest practicable 
    1976--Pub. L. 94-381 substituted ``Three-judge court; when 
required'' for ``Three-judge district court'' in section catchline, and 
generally revised section to alter the method by which three-judge 
courts are composed, the procedure used by such courts, and to conform 
its requirements to the repeal of sections 2281 and 2282 of this title.
    1960--Pub. L. 86-507 substituted ``by registered mail or by 
certified mail by the clerk and'' for ``by registered mail by the clerk, 

                    Effective Date of 1984 Amendment

    Amendment by Pub. L. 98-620 not applicable to cases pending on Nov. 
8, 1984, see section 403 of Pub. L. 98-620, set out as an Effective Date 
note under section 1657 of this title.

                    Effective Date of 1976 Amendment

    Section 7 of Pub. L. 94-381 provided that: ``This Act [amending this 
section and section 2403 of this title and repealing sections 2281 and 
2282 of this title] shall not apply to any action commenced on or before 
the date of enactment [Aug. 12, 1976].''

                  Section Referred to in Other Sections

    This section is referred to in title 2 section 922; title 18 section 
3626; title 26 sections 9010, 9011; title 42 sections 1973b, 1973c, 
1973h, 1973aa-2, 1973bb; title 47 section 555.