Goosby v. Osser,
409 U.S. 512 (1973)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Goosby v. Osser, 409 U.S. 512 (1973)

Goosby v. Osser

No. 71-6316

Argued December 7, 1972

Decided January 17, 1973

409 U.S. 512


Philadelphia County prisoners unable to make bail or being held on nonbailable offenses brought this class action, asserting the unconstitutionality of Pennsylvania Election Code provisions denying them the right to vote. When the Commonwealth (but not the municipal) officials who were named as defendants conceded the Code provisions' unconstitutionality, the District Judge (deeming the Commonwealth officials the principal defendants) ruled the case nonjusticiable as not involving an Art. III case or controversy, and dismissed the complaint. The Court of Appeals, though differing as to justiciability, affirmed on the ground that petitioners' constitutional claims were wholly insubstantial under McDonald v. Board of Election Comm'rs, 394 U. S. 802, and ruled that a three-judge district court was therefore not required under 28 U.S.C. § 2281.


1. The Commonwealth officials' concession did not foreclose the existence of an Art. III case or controversy, since the municipal officials continue to assert the right to enforce the challenged Code provisions. Pp. 409 U. S. 516-517.

2. McDonald, supra, unlike the situation alleged here, did not deal with an absolute prohibition against voting by the prisoners there involved, and that decision does not "foreclose the subject" of petitioners' challenge to the Pennsylvania statutory scheme. The case may, if appropriate, therefore be heard by a three-judge district court. Pp. 409 U. S. 518-523.

452 F.2d 39, reversed and remanded.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Page 409 U. S. 513

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