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The State of Redistricting Litigation

A roundup of where key redistricting cases across the country stand.

Last Updated: February 8, 2021
Published: February 10, 2020

Prison Gerrymandering Claims

Pennsylvania

Holbrook v. Pennsylvania

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.

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

Key filings for Holbrook v. Pennsylvania can be found here.

Challenges to Redistricting Reforms

Michigan

Daunt v. Benson

On July 30, 2019, 15 individuals filed a federal lawsuit challenging the eligibility requirements for the state’s independent redistricting commission under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiffs, who each fall into one or more of the eight categories of people excluded by law from serving on the commission, argue that the eligibility requirements require them to refrain from constitutionally protected activities, in violation of their First Amendment rights to free speech and association. Plaintiffs also claim that the eligibility requirements violate their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment because, among other things, the requirements deny them an opportunity to serve on the commission as a result of their political activity.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the commission unconstitutional and block the Michigan Secretary of State from moving forward with the commissioner selection process.

On July 30, the plaintiffs also filed a motion for preliminary injunction, requesting the court halt commission-related proceedings while litigation is pending.

On August 28, the court allowed Voters Not Politicians, the group that sponsored the proposal to create the independent redistricting commission, to intervene as defendants. 

On September 11, the court granted Michigan Secretary of State Benson’s motion to consolidate the case with Michigan Republican Party v. Benson, another case challenging the constitutionality of the commission.

On November 25, the court denied the plaintiffs' motions for a preliminary injunction. On November 26, the Daunt plaintiffs appealed that decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

On April 15, 2020, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision to deny the motions for preliminary injunctions. 

On May 13, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a petition with the Sixth Circuit for rehearing en banc. On June 19, 2020, the Sixth Circuit denied the plaintiffs’ request for a rehearing.

On July 6, 2020, the district court granted the defendants' motions to dismiss the case. On August 3, 2020, the Daunt plaintiffs appealed that decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Key filings for Daunt v. Benson can be found here

Michigan Republican Party v. Benson

On August 22, 2019, the Michigan Republican Party and five individuals who affiliate with the party filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s independent redistricting commission under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiffs argue that the commission’s rules violate their First Amendment rights to free speech and association, as well as their right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. The suit claims multiple aspects of the rules governing the commission are unconstitutional, including the composition of the commission and the eligibility requirements that bar certain people from serving as commissioners. The plaintiffs argue that these rules, among others, discriminate against political parties, as well as against individuals for their partisan affiliations and political activity.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the commission unconstitutional and block the Michigan Secretary of State from enforcing any part of the constitutional amendment through which it was established.

On August 22, the plaintiffs also filed a motion to enjoin commission proceedings pending litigation.

On September 11, this case was consolidated with Daunt v. Benson. On November 25, the court denied the both sets of plaintiffs' motions for preliminary injunctions. On December 9, the Michigan Republican Party plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

On February 10, the Brennan Center for Justice filed an amicus brief in support of Michigan Secretary of State Benson, arguing that the commission’s rules safeguard the state’s compelling interest in preventing single-party control over the redistricting process.

On April 15, 2020, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision to deny the motions for preliminary injunctions. 

On May 13, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a petition with the Sixth Circuit for rehearing en banc. On June 19, 2020, the Sixth Circuit denied the plaintiffs’ request for a rehearing.

On July 6, 2020, the district court granted the defendants' motions to dismiss the case. On August 3, 2020, the Daunt plaintiffs appealed that decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Key filings for Michigan Republican Party v. Benson can be found here.