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Supreme Court of the United States
December 8, 1964, Argued ; March 8, 1965, Decided
[*203] [***763] [**826] MR. JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.
The petitioner, Robert Swain, a Negro, was indicted and convicted of rape in the Circuit Court of Talladega County, Alabama, and sentenced to death. His motions to quash the indictment, to strike the trial jury venire and to declare void the petit jury chosen in the case, all based on alleged invidious discrimination in the selection of jurors, were denied. The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, 275 Ala. 508, 156 So. 2d 368, and we granted [****4] certiorari, 377 U.S. 915.
In support of his claims, petitioner invokes the constitutional principle announced in 1880 in Strauder v. West Virginia, 100 U.S. 303, where the Court struck down a state statute qualifying only white people for jury duty. Such a statute was held to contravene the central purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment: "exemption from unfriendly legislation against [Negroes] distinctively as colored, -- exemption from legal discriminations, implying inferiority in civil society, lessening the security of their enjoyment of the rights which others enjoy . . . ." 100 U.S., at 308.] Although a Negro defendant is not entitled to a jury containing members of his race, a State's purposeful [*204] or deliberate denial to Negroes on account of race of participation as jurors in the administration [****5] of justice violates the Equal Protection Clause. Ex parte [**827] Virginia, 100 U.S. 339; Gibson v. Mississippi, 162 U.S. 565. This principle was further elaborated in Carter v. Texas, 177 U.S. 442, 447, where, in respect to exclusion from grand juries, the Court said:
"Whenever by any action of a State, whether through its legislature, through its courts, or through its executive or administrative officers, all persons of the African race are excluded, solely because of their race or color, from serving as grand jurors in the criminal prosecution of a person of the African race, the equal protection of the laws is denied . . . ."
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
380 U.S. 202 *; 85 S. Ct. 824 **; 13 L. Ed. 2d 759 ***; 1965 U.S. LEXIS 1668 ****
SWAIN v. ALABAMA
Subsequent History: Rehearing denied by Swain v. Alabama, 381 U.S. 921, 14 L. Ed. 2d 442, 85 S. Ct. 1528, 1965 U.S. LEXIS 1300 (1965)
Prior History: [****1] CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF ALABAMA.
Swain v. State, 275 Ala. 508, 156 So. 2d 368, 1963 Ala. LEXIS 705 (1963)
Disposition: 275 Ala. 508, 156 So. 2d 368, affirmed.
peremptory, jurors, venire, systematic, facie, colored, impartial, proportion, indicted, struck, roll, peremptorily, rebut, common-law, partiality, box
Constitutional Law, Equal Protection, National Origin & Race, Criminal Law & Procedure, Challenges to Jury Venire, Equal Protection Challenges, Application to Ethnicity, Impaneling Grand Juries, Selection of Jurors, Discrimination, Nature & Scope of Protection, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, Right to Jury Trial, Appeals, Reversible Error, General Overview, Civil Procedure, Jurors, Selection, Challenges for Cause, Juries & Jurors, Peremptory Challenges, Voir Dire, Voir Dire, Governments, Courts, Court Personnel, Sentencing, Proportionality