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Holbrook v. Pennsylvania

A group of Pennsylvania voters, along with several organizations, filed a lawsuit in state court contending that Pennsylvania’s current state legislative maps are unconstitutional because of unlawful prison gerrymandering.

Last Updated: February 2, 2021
Published: March 2, 2020

Note: The Bren­nan Center is not a parti­cipant in this case.

Case Back­ground

Four Pennsylvania voters, along with several organ­iz­a­tions includ­ing the National Asso­ci­ation for the Advance­ment of Colored People (NAACP), filed a lawsuit in the Common­wealth Court of Pennsylvania contend­ing that Pennsylvani­a’s current state legis­lat­ive maps are uncon­sti­tu­tional because of unlaw­ful prison gerry­man­der­ing. Lawmakers appor­tioned the maps in ques­tion by count­ing people who are incar­cer­ated as resid­ents of their correc­tional facil­it­ies. Plaintiffs argue that this prac­tice viol­ates the Pennsylvania Consti­tu­tion’s Free and Equal Elec­tions Clause and Equal Popu­la­tion Require­ment for General Assembly Districts, as well as the state’s stat­utory rule provid­ing that no incar­cer­ated indi­vidu­als shall be deemed resid­ents of their correc­tional facil­it­ies for the purposes of voter regis­tra­tion and voting.

The plaintiffs have asked the court to declare the current legis­lat­ive maps uncon­sti­tu­tional and block the state from approv­ing any future maps that count people who are incar­cer­ated at correc­tional facil­it­ies, rather than their pre-incar­cer­a­tion addresses or last known addresses.

On Janu­ary 14, 2021, the court sustained the Common­wealth of Pennsylvani­a’s prelim­in­ary objec­tions and dismissed the case.

Docu­ments

Common­wealth Court of Pennsylvania

Amicus Briefs in Support of the Respond­ents