Morgan v. Illinois, 504 U.S. 719, 13 (1992)

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Cite as: 504 U. S. 719 (1992)

Opinion of the Court

petitioner be permitted to have the jurors interrogated on the issue of racial bias." Id., at 526-527.

We have also come to recognize that the principles first propounded in Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U. S. 510 (1968), the reverse of which are at issue here, demand inquiry into whether the views of prospective jurors on the death penalty would disqualify them from sitting.6 At its inception, Witherspoon conferred no "right" on a State, but was in reality a limitation of a State's making unlimited challenges for cause to exclude those jurors who "might hesitate" to return a verdict imposing death. Id., at 512-513; see Adams v. Texas, 448 U. S., at 47-49. Upon consideration of the jury in Witherspoon, drawn as it was from a venire from which the State struck any juror expressing qualms about the death penalty,

6 Illinois argues that, because of the changed structure in death penalty jurisprudence since Furman v. Georgia, 408 U. S. 238 (1972), Witherspoon principles should no longer guide this area. But analogous arguments have been previously raised and rejected. Adams v. Texas, 448 U. S. 38, 45-47 (1980). When considering the Texas death penalty scheme in light of Witherspoon, we stated: "[J]urors in Texas must determine whether the evidence presented by the State convinces them beyond reasonable doubt that each of the three questions put to them must be answered in the affirmative. In doing so, they must consider both aggravating and mitigating circumstances, whether appearing in the evidence presented at the trial on guilt or innocence or during the sentencing proceedings. Jurors will characteristically know that affirmative answers to the questions will result in the automatic imposition of the death penalty, and each of the jurors whose exclusion is challenged by petitioner was so informed. In essence, Texas juries must be allowed to consider 'on the basis of all relevant evidence not only why a death sentence should be imposed, but also why it should not be imposed.' Jurek v. Texas, 428 U. S. 262, 271 (1976) (opinion of Stewart, Powell, and Stevens, JJ.). This process is not an exact science, and the jurors under the Texas bifurcated procedure unavoidably exercise a range of judgment and discretion while remaining true to their instructions and their oaths." Adams, supra, at 46 (citation omitted). The balancing approach chosen by Illinois vests considerably more discretion in the jurors considering the death penalty, and, with stronger reason, Witherspoon's general principles apply. Cf. Turner v. Murray, 476 U. S. 28, 34-35 (1986) (plurality opinion).


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