Excluding Jurors Based on Race
The United States has a long history of racial discrimination in juries. In 1875, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act which prohibited race-based discrimination in jury service. Yet, states continued to remove Black prospective jurors, by instituting vague requirements for jury service or designating prominent citizens to compile juror lists, and then shifted to excluding jurors from jury selection from around the 1960s. Despite the landmark 1986 case Batson v. Kentucky in which the Supreme Court held that the state may not use peremptory challenges to exclude jurors solely on the basis of race and set out a standard to determine whether a peremptory strike was discriminatory, the practice persists today. Legal ethics scholar Professor Peter Joy explains the Batson standard and the ways in which the framework falls short. He discusses the legal ethics of racial discrimination in jury selection and considers alternatives to peremptory challenges to combat discrimination.