The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (“LDF”) celebrates the 30th Anniversary of Batson v. Kentucky, a U.S. Supreme Court case that prohibits the exclusion of jurors based solely on their race as a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Importantly, the case created a new legal standard and opportunity to challenge racial discrimination in jury selection. LDF has fought to ensure that the American criminal justice system is free of discrimination decades before Batson, and in the decades since.
The right to a jury trial is a hallmark of the American criminal justice system. The fairness of the system, however, has continuously been called into question because of the tension between the constitutional guarantee of equal protection in courtrooms and the practice of allowing prosecutors to use peremptory challenges to remove jurors from serving for any reason. Despite the guarantee of a trial by jury of one’s peers, courts throughout the nation have allowed Blacks who were charged with crimes to be tried by all-white juries. As a result, “legal lynchings” against Black defendants remain a common practice within the American judicial system.
Read more about the Supreme Court’s Batson v. Kentucky decision as well as LDF’s cases which challenged jury discrimination before and after the 1986 case.