In The

Supreme Court of the United States




Decided April 30, 1986

Justice O’Connor, Concurring


Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), was a case in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that a prosecutor's use of peremptory challenge in a criminal case—the dismissal of jurors without stating a valid cause for doing so—may not be used to exclude jurors based solely on their race. The Court ruled that this practice violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The case gave rise to the term Batson challenge, an objection to a peremptory challenge based on the standard established by the Supreme Court's decision in this case. Subsequent jurisprudence has resulted in the extension of Batson to civil cases (Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Company) and cases where jurors are excluded on the basis of sex (J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel. T.B.).

The principle had been established previously by several state courts, including the California Supreme Court in 1978, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1979 and the Florida Supreme Court in 1984.

Topic: Civil Rights*Court vote: 7–2
Note: No other Justices joined this opinion.
Holding: Strauder v. West Virginia reaffirmed; prosecutors may not use race as a factor in making peremptory challenges; defendants must only make a prima facie showing on the evidence from their case to mount a challenge to race-based use of peremptories.
Citation: 476 U.S. 79 Docket: 84–6263Audio: Listen to this case's oral arguments at Oyez

* As categorized by the Washington University Law Supreme Court Database

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JUSTICE O'CONNOR, concurring.

I concur in the Court's opinion and judgment, but also agree with the views of THE CHIEF JUSTICE and JUSTICE WHITE that today's decision does not apply retroactively.

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