As the fragmentation of areas of governmental responsibility increases, statutory reference terms which once were securely static in meaning must be re-examined. Illustrative of this evolutionary ambiguity are the terms "state statute" and "state officer" as they appear in the jurisdictional statute for federal three judge courts. ... The Supreme Court has emphasized the importance of the jurisdictional considerations in potential three judge cases by refusing to discuss the merits of a case which should have been decided by either a single judge or a three judge court and was not. The Court has cautioned us that § 2281 is to be viewed "not as a measure of broad social policy to be construed with great liberality but as an enactment technical in the strict sense of the term and to be applied as such." In order that a "strict" application of the statute not contravene the purpose for which § 2281 was enacted, it should be remembered that the three-judge court was designed to provide a more responsible forum in the litigation of suits which, if successful, would render void state statutes embodying important statewide policies.
Elizabeth du Fresne and William du Fresne,
Reference Ordinances and Three-Judge Courts,
20 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at http://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol20/iss3/21