§ 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]
TITLE 28--JUDICIARY AND JUDICIAL PROCEDURE
PART VI--PARTICULAR PROCEEDINGS
CHAPTER 155--INJUNCTIONS; THREE-JUDGE COURTS
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
(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 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.