The Burger Court (1969–86)

Criminal Law and Procedure

CourtSpeak: Batson v. Kentucky
“Purposeful Discrimination” Case (1986)

Justice Lewis Powell (majority): “The harm from discriminatory jury selection extends beyond that inflicted on the defendant and the excluded juror to touch the entire community. Selection procedures that purposefully exclude black persons from juries undermine public confidence in the fairness of our system of justice.”

Justice Thurgood Marshall (concurring): “The decision today will not end the racial discrimination that peremptories inject into the jury-selection process. That goal can be accomplished only by eliminating peremptory challenges entirely.”

Justice William Rehnquist (dissenting): “In my view, there is simply nothing ‘unequal’ about the State’s using its peremptory challenges to strike black defendants, so long as such challenges are also used to exclude whites in cases involving white defendants, Hispanics in cases involving Hispanic defendants, Asians in cases involving Asian defendants and so on.”


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