WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has unanimously sided with Maryland residents who say a judge prematurely threw out their challenge to the state’s 2011 redrawing of its congressional districts.

The court ruled Tuesday that federal law requires that the Maryland case be heard by a panel of three judges, not the lone judge who dismissed the challenge.

Justice Antonin Scalia said the law “could not be clearer.”

The group of residents originally filed their lawsuit in 2013 arguing that the new district map, which allowed Democrats to pick up an additional seat in Congress, was irrational and violated their First Amendment and other rights.

The justices did not address the substance of the complaint Tuesday, ruling only that a three-judge panel must consider it.

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