BATSON v. KENTUCKY

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
84-6263
Petitioner 
Batson
Respondent 
Kentucky
Opinion 
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
(Argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging affirmance)
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Facts of the Case 

Batson, a black man, was on trial charged with second-degree burglary and receipt of stolen goods. During the jury selection, the prosecutor used his peremptory challenges to strike the four black persons on the venire, resulting in a jury composed of all whites. Batson was convicted on both of the charges against him.

Question 

Did the prosecutor's use of peremptory challenges to exclude the four blacks from the jury violate Batson's Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to a fair jury trial and his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of the laws?

Conclusion 
Decision: 7 votes for Batson, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Equal Protection

The Court found that the prosecutor's actions violated the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. Relying heavily on precedents set in Strauder v. West Virginia (1880) and Swain v. Alabama (1965), Justice Powell held that racial discrimination in the selection of jurors not only deprives the accused of important rights during a trial, but also is devastating to the community at large because it "undermines public confidence in the fairness of our system of justice." Without identifying a "neutral" reason why the four blacks should have been excluded from the jury, the prosecutor's actions were in violation of the Constitution.

Cite this Page
BATSON v. KENTUCKY. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 12 December 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1985/1985_84_6263/>.
BATSON v. KENTUCKY, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1985/1985_84_6263/ (last visited December 12, 2014).
"BATSON v. KENTUCKY," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed December 12, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1985/1985_84_6263/.