Holland v. Illinois
Decided on Jan. 22, 1990; 493 US 474


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

A. Issues Discussed:
Civil Rights (race), 6th Amendment, criminal justice

B. Legal Question Presented:

1. Does a white defendant have standing to raise a Sixth Amendment challenge to the prosecutor's exercise of peremptory challenges to exclude all black potential jurors from his jury?

2. Does such exclusion violate his Sixth Amendment right to trial by an impartial jury?

II. CASE SUMMARY:

A. Background:

Daniel Holland (Petitioner) was charged in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, with aggravated kidnapping, rape, deviate sexual assault, armed robbery, and aggravated battery. According to his allegations, a venire of 30 potential jurors was assembled, two of whom were black. Petitioner's counsel objected to those of the State's peremptory challenges that struck the two black members from the jury, on the ground that the petitioner had a Sixth Amendment right to "be tried by a representative cross section of the community." The trial judge overruled the objection, and the petitioner was then convicted of all charges except aggravated battery.

The convictions were reversed by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  The state (Respondent) appealed and the case was reinstated by the Illinois Supreme Court, which rejected the petitioner's Equal Protection Clause and Sixth Amendment challenges to the exclusion of black jurors. Holland petitioned for certiorari asserting that the Sixth Amendment holding was in error and the United States Supreme Court reviewed the case.

B. Counsel of Record:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Donald S. Honchell argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Randolph N. Stone, Alison Edwards, and Ronald P. Alwin.

Inge Fryklund argued the cause for respondent. With her on the brief were Neil F. Hartigan, Attorney General of Illinois; Robert J. Ruiz, Solicitor General; Terence M. Madsen, Assistant Attorney General; and Cecil A. Partee.
C. The Arguments:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
III. AMICI CURIAE:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Steven R. Shapiro, Julius LeVonne Chambers, and Charles Stephen Ralston filed a brief for the American Civil Liberties Union et al. as amicus curiae urging reversal.
No amici curiae briefs were filed on behalf of Respondent.


IV. THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION:

"The threshold question is whether petitioner, who is white, has standing to raise a Sixth Amendment challenge to the exclusion of blacks from his jury. We hold that he does...

The rule we announce today is not only the only plausible reading of the text of the Sixth Amendment, but we think it best furthers the Amendment's central purpose as well. Although the constitutional guarantee runs only to the individual and not to the State, the goal it expresses is jury impartiality with respect to both contestants: neither the defendant nor the State should be favored. This goal, it seems to us, would positively be obstructed by a petit jury cross-section requirement which, as we have described, would cripple the device of peremptory challenge. We have acknowledged that that device occupies 'an important position in our trial procedures...' and has indeed been considered 'a necessary part of trial by jury...' Peremptory challenges, by enabling each side to exclude those jurors it believes will be most partial toward the other side, are a means of 'eliminat[ing] extremes of partiality on both sides,' thereby 'assuring the selection of a qualified and unbiased jury...'

Since only the Sixth Amendment claim, and not the equal protection claim, is at issue, the question before us is not whether the defendant has been unlawfully discriminated against because he was white, or whether the excluded jurors have been unlawfully discriminated against because they were black, but whether the defendant has been denied the right to 'trial... by an impartial jury.' The earnestness of this Court's commitment to racial justice is not to be measured by its willingness to expand constitutional provisions designed for other purposes beyond their proper bounds."

Held: The judgment of the Illinois Supreme Court was affirmed.

Justice Vote: 4 Pro vs. 5 Con

  • Scalia, A. Con  (Wrote majority opinion)
  • Rehnquist, W. Con  (Joined majority opinion)
  • White, B. Con  (Joined majority opinion)
  • O'Connor, S. Con  (Joined majority opinion)
  • Kennedy, A. Con  (Wrote concurring opinion)
  • Marshall, T. Pro  (Wrote dissenting opinion)
  • Brennan, W. Pro  (Joined Marshall's dissenting opinion)
  • Blackmun, H. Pro  (Joined Marshall's dissenting opinion)
  • Stevens, J. Pro  (Wrote dissenting opinion)
V. A WIN OR LOSS FOR THE ACLU?

The ACLU filed as amicus urging reversal.  The United States Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the Supreme Court of Illinois in a 5-4 vote, giving the ACLU an apparent loss.