GEORGIA v. MCCOLLUM

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
91-372
Petitioner 
Georgia
Respondent 
Thomas McCollum et al.
Opinion 
Advocates
(on behalf of the Petitioner)
(on behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae supporting the Petitioner)
(on behalf of the Respondent)
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Facts of the Case 

In 1990, white respondents, Thomas McCollum, William Joseph McCollum, and Ella Hampton McCollum, were charged with assaulting two black individuals. Before the criminal trial, the prosecution moved to bar the defense from using its peremptory challenges to eliminate black people from the juror pool. The term "preemptory challenge" refers to the right to reject a potential juror during jury selection without giving a reason. The trial judge denied the prosecution's motion, and, when the prosecution appealed, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the trial judge's decision.

Question 

Does the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibit a criminal defendant's use of peremptory challenges to discriminate against potential jurors on the basis of race?

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

Yes. In a majority opinion authored by Justice Harry A. Blackmun, the Court found that the exercise of peremptory challenges in a racially discriminatory manner not only violates the rights of potential jurors, but also undermines the integrity of the judicial system. Since the Court also determined that a peremptory challenge did constitute state action, it found the use of peremptory challenge for the purpose of racial discrimination to be a breach of the Equal Protection Clause. Consequently, the decision of the Georgia Supreme Court was reversed.

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GEORGIA v. MCCOLLUM. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 13 December 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1991/1991_91_372>.
GEORGIA v. MCCOLLUM, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1991/1991_91_372 (last visited December 13, 2014).
"GEORGIA v. MCCOLLUM," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed December 13, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1991/1991_91_372.