ABA urges extension of Batson v. Kentucky to prohibit discrimination against LGBT jurors

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Today, the ABA House of delegates adopted HOD Res 108D. This resolution urges extension of Batson v. Kentucky to prohibit discrimination against jurors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The American jury system is a symbol of our democracy. The Supreme Court has long recognized that jury service and voting are deeply important civic obligations.

As the SCOTUS wrote in Powers v. Ohio:

With the exception of voting, for most citizens the honor and privilege of jury duty is their most significant opportunity to participate in the democratic process.

  • It wasn’t until the 1986 case of Batson v. Kentucky that the Supreme Court finally prohibited the discriminatory elimination of otherwise qualified jurors simply on the basis of race.
  • It took another eight years for the Court to extend Batson to cover gender-based discrimination in the selection process, in the case of J.E.B v. Alabama.
  • In GlaxoSmithKline v. Abbott Laboratories, the Ninth Circuit ruled that Batson did apply and found that the attorney engaged in purposeful discrimination. The Court ordered a new trial.

In reaching its decision, the 9th Circuit noted:

Gays and lesbians may not have been excluded from juries in the same open manner as women and African Americans, but our translation of the principles that lie behind Batson and J.E.B. require that we apply the same principles to the unique experience of gays and lesbians.

The adoption of this Resolution will bring the LGBT community another step closer to full legal equality, while simultaneously strengthening the integrity of the American judicial system and expanding equal access to justice for all.

Executive Director, LeGaL @lgbtbarny. Attorney promoting justice in & through the legal profession for the #LGBT community. 40 Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40.

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