Jury Service as Political Participation Akin to Voting
30 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2011 Last revised: 14 Nov 2011
Date Written: 1995
The Supreme Court has grappled with the constitutional limits on discrimination in the jury selection process for over one hundred years, beginning with the decisions in 1879 involving state laws and practices that excluded blacks from sitting on juries altogether. In the last nine years alone, the Court has decided six significant cases concerning alleged racial discrimination in jury composition.
The argument of this Article is that the link between jury service and other rights of political participation such as voting is an important part of our overall constitutional structure, spanning three centuries and eight amendments: the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-Fourth, and Twenty-Sixth. One kind of group the Court has yet to protect against jury service discrimination is that defined by age, especially young adults. I argue that age-defined groups, like other groups protected by the Constitution against discrimination in voting, are essential participants in the jury process as well. In the end, the groups protected from discrimination in jury service should be the same groups protected from discrimination in voting, regardless of how these groups fare under Sixth Amendment or equal protection approaches.
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