Suffolk University Law Review
Does the Equal Protection Clause prohibit Mississippi from demonstrating discriminatory intent by allowing the prosecution to strike at least one black juror, whose circumstances were like those of potential white jurors who were not stricken by the prosecution? In Flowers v. Mississippi (Flowers VI), the Supreme Court of the United States declared that the Batson v. Kentucky decision prohibits Mississippi from discriminating on the basis of race when using its peremptory challenges to remove potential jurors in a criminal trial. Writing for the Court, Justice Kavanaugh highlighted the Batson decision as endorsing a central goal of the Fourteenth Amendment—to stop racial discrimination by governmental actors. Although Batson has noble goals, “Batson challenges are difficult to win. First, the judge must find enough merit in the challenge to require the opposing party to identify a non-discriminatory basis for its challenge. Many Batson challenges will fail at this stage.” When a court commands an opposing party to provide nondiscriminatory information for its challenges, competent attorneys have the ability to provide some justification other than race for their strikes. “If the opposing party manages to offer a nondiscriminatory basis, the challenger must demonstrate that the basis was pretext, another substantial hurdle. Accordingly, [parties] reserve Batson challenges for extreme circumstances.” Because peremptory challenges may serve as easy tools for intentional racial discrimination abuse in criminal trials, any nondiscriminatory justification under Batson should be required to meet a strict scrutiny test to protect racial equality in the jury selection process.
Equal protection, Jury selection, Batson v. Kentucky, Flowers v. Mississippi
Civil Rights and Discrimination | Constitutional Law | Criminal Law
Weeden, L. Darnell, "Mississippi Allows Peremptory Challenges for Fake, Race-Neutral Reasons in Violation of Batson's Equal Rights Rationale" (2020). Civil Rights Publications. 3.
Suffolk University Law School