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United States Supreme Court Affirms Maryland’s Landmark Law Ending Prison-Based Gerrymandering

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Washington, DC – Today, the United States Supreme Court in Fletcher v. Lamone denied a request to consider a challenge to the constitutionality of Maryland’s landmark “No Representation Without Population Act.” 

In 2010, Maryland became the first state in the nation to pass legislation to end the  practice of “prison-based gerrymandering,” which artificially inflated the voting strength of prison districts, which are often rural and overwhelmingly white, at the expense of the home communities of incarcerated people, which are disproportionately urban communities of color.  For example, while 68% of Maryland’s incarcerated individuals are from Baltimore, only 17% of the state’s individuals are incarcerated – and counted – in the city.

Under Maryland’s Act, individuals in prison are counted at their last known residence for Congressional, State and local redistricting. 

After the district court in Fletcher rejected the challenge to Maryland’s right to correct where incarcerated people are counted for the purpose of drawing congressional districts, the Plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court. Today, the Supreme Court denied the Plaintiffs’ request to hear the case.  

“The Supreme Court today affirmed Maryland’s decision to eliminate the political distortion caused by its former practice of counting incarcerated individuals as residents of the prison communities where they are housed, rather than where they are actually from and will ultimately return,” said Ryan P. Haygood, Director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s Political Participation Group.  “The law will help ensure fairer representation for all of Maryland’s residents, starting with this redistricting cycle.”

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund filed an amicus brief, together with its partners, the Prison Policy Initiative, Dēmos, the Howard University School of Law Civil Rights Clinic, the ACLU of Maryland, and the Maryland and Somerset County Branch NAACP, explaining the basis and need for Maryland’s law.