Morgan v. Illinois, 504 U.S. 719, 12 (1992)

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Opinion of the Court

trial judge's responsibility to remove prospective jurors who will not be able impartially to follow the court's instructions and evaluate the evidence cannot be fulfilled." Rosales-Lopez v. United States, 451 U. S. 182, 188 (1981) (plurality opinion). Hence, "[t]he exercise of [the trial court's] discretion, and the restriction upon inquiries at the request of counsel, [are] subject to the essential demands of fairness." Aldridge v. United States, 283 U. S. 308, 310 (1931).5

The adequacy of voir dire is not easily the subject of appellate review, Rosales-Lopez, supra, at 188, but we have not hesitated, particularly in capital cases, to find that certain inquiries must be made to effectuate constitutional protections, see, e. g., Turner v. Murray, supra, at 36-37; Ham v. South Carolina, 409 U. S. 524, 526-527 (1973). Our holding in Ham, for instance, was as follows:

"Since one of the purposes of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is to insure these 'essential demands of fairness,' e. g., Lisenba v. California, 314 U. S. 219, 236 (1941), and since a principal purpose of the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment was to prohibit the States from invidiously discriminating on the basis of race, Slaughter-House Cases, 16 Wall. 36, 81 (1873), we think that the Fourteenth Amendment required the judge in this case to interrogate the jurors upon the subject of racial prejudice. South Carolina law permits challenges for cause, and authorizes the trial judge to conduct voir dire examination of potential jurors. The State having created this statutory framework for the selection of juries, the essential fairness required by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that under the facts shown by this record the

5 See Mu'Min v. Virginia, 500 U. S. 415, 425-426 (1991): "To be constitutionally compelled . . . it is not enough that such questions might be helpful. Rather, the trial court's failure to ask these questions must render the defendant's trial fundamentally unfair."

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