Opinion of the Court
we found it "self-evident that, in its role as arbiter of the punishment to be imposed, this jury fell woefully short of that impartiality to which the petitioner was entitled under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments." 391 U. S., at 518. To preserve this impartiality, Witherspoon constrained the State's exercise of challenges for cause:
"[A] State may not entrust the determination of whether a man should live or die to a tribunal organized to return a verdict of death. Specifically, we hold that a sentence of death cannot be carried out if the jury that imposed or recommended it was chosen by excluding veniremen for cause simply because they voiced general objections to the death penalty or expressed conscientious or religious scruples against its infliction. No defendant can constitutionally be put to death at the hands of a tribunal so selected." Id., at 520-523 (footnotes omitted).
See also Lockhart v. McCree, 476 U. S. 162, 179-180 (1986). Witherspoon limited a State's power broadly to exclude jurors hesitant in their ability to sentence a defendant to death, but nothing in that decision questioned "the power of a State to execute a defendant sentenced to death by a jury from which the only veniremen who were in fact excluded for cause were those who made unmistakably clear . . . that they would automatically vote against the imposition of capital punishment without regard to any evidence that might be developed at the trial of the case before them . . . ." 391 U. S., at 522, n. 21 (emphasis in original); see also id., at 513-514.
In Wainwright v. Witt, 469 U. S. 412 (1985), we revisited footnote 21 of Witherspoon, and held affirmatively that "the State may exclude from capital sentencing juries that 'class' of veniremen whose views would prevent or substantially impair the performance of their duties in accord-Page: Index Previous 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Next
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