Taylor v. Louisiana

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419 U.S. 522 (1975), argued 16 Oct. 1974, decided 21 Jan. 1975 by vote of 8 to 1; White for the Court, Burger concurring, Rehnquist in dissent. Taylor was brought by a man charged with rape who had argued unsuccessfully in the Louisiana state courts that its “volunteers only” jury service provision violated his Sixth Amendment right to a jury drawn from a representative cross-section of the community. In Hoyt v. Florida (1961) the Supreme Court had upheld the conviction of a female defendant who had argued that a similar Florida provision violated her rights to equal protection of the law and to a trial by a jury of her peers. The Florida registration provision had yielded only ten females in a pool of 9,900 jurors, and none of the women were called for her venire.

In Taylor, the Court held, first, that the systematic exclusion of women from jury panels violated any defendant's (male or female) fundamental right to a jury trial drawn from a representative cross-section of the community and, second, that women as a class cannot be excluded from jury service or given automatic exemptions if the result is that panels are almost all male. Thus, the Court effectively overruled Hoyt v. Florida, although it was distinguished as not resting on the Sixth Amendment grounds. Four years later, in Duren v. Missouri (1979), the Court extended Taylor to invalidate a Missouri statute that allowed for the exemption of women from jury service, which had produced juries that generally were at least 85 percent male. In J.E.B. v. Alabama Ex Rel. T.B. (1994) the Court held that the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection bars the exclusion of potential jurors through peremptory challenges based on their sex.

Karen O’Connor

Subjects: Law.

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