J.E.B. v. Alabama
Decided on Apr. 19, 1994; 511 US 127


I. ISSUES II. CASE SUMMARY III. AMICI CURIAE IV. DECISION V. WIN OR LOSS?
I. ISSUES:

A. Issues Discussed: Equal protection, gender discrimination

B. Legal Question Presented:

Does the Equal Protection Clause forbid intentional discrimination on the basis of gender in peremptory challenges?

II. CASE SUMMARY:

A. Background:

"On behalf of relator T. B., the mother of a minor child, respondent State of Alabama filed a complaint for paternity and child support against petitioner J.E.B. in the District Court of Jackson County, Alabama. On October 21, 1991, the matter was called for trial and jury selection began. The trial court assembled a panel of 36 potential jurors, 12 males and 24 females. After the court excused three jurors for cause, only 10 of the remaining 33 jurors were male. The State then used 9 of its 10 peremptory strikes to remove male jurors; petitioner used all but one of his strikes to remove female jurors. As a result, all the selected jurors were female.

Before the jury was empaneled, petitioner objected to the State's peremptory challenges on the ground that they were exercised against male jurors solely on the basis of gender, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Petitioner argued that the logic and reasoning of Batson v. Kentucky, which prohibits peremptory strikes solely on the basis of race, similarly forbids intentional discrimination on the basis of gender. The court rejected petitioner's claim and empaneled the all female jury. The jury found petitioner to be the father of the child and the court entered an order directing him to pay child support. On post-judgment motion, the court reaffirmed its ruling that Batson does not extend to gender based peremptory challenges. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals affirmed relying on Alabama precedent. The Supreme Court of Alabama denied certiorari."

On certiorari the US Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama.
B. Counsel of Record:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
C. The Arguments:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
III. AMICI CURIAE:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
ACLU Unavailable
IV. THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION:

"Equal opportunity to participate in the fair administration of justice is fundamental to our democratic system. It not only furthers the goals of the jury system. It reaffirms the promise of equality under the law -- that all citizens, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender, have the chance to take part directly in our democracy. When persons are excluded from participation in our democratic processes solely because of race or gender, this promise of equality dims, and the integrity of our judicial system is jeopardized.

In view of these concerns, the Equal Protection Clause prohibits discrimination in jury selection on the basis of gender, or on the assumption that an individual will be biased in a particular case for no reason other than the fact that the person happens to be a woman or happens to be a man."

The US Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama.

Justice Vote: 6 Pro vs. 3 Con

  • Blackmun, H. Pro (Wrote majority opinion)
  • Stevens, J. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • O'Connor, S. Pro (Wrote concurring opinion)
  • Souter, D. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Ginsburg, R. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Kennedy, A Pro (Wrote concurring opinion)
  • Rehnquist, W. Con (Wrote dissenting opinion)
  • Scalia, A. Con (Wrote dissenting opinion)
  • Thomas, C. Con (Joined dissenting opinion)
V. A WIN OR LOSS FOR THE ACLU?

The ACLU, as amicus curiae, urged reversal of the judgment of the Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama; the Supreme Court reversed in a 6-3 vote, giving the ACLU an apparent win.