Georgia v. McCollum, 505 U.S. 42, 2 (1992)

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Cite as: 505 U. S. 42 (1992)


whenever a private actor's conduct is deemed fairly attributable to the government, it is likely that private motives will have animated the actor's decision. Pp. 50-55. (d) The State has third-party standing to challenge a defendant's discriminatory use of peremptory challenges, since it suffers a concrete injury when the fairness and the integrity of its own judicial process is undermined; since, as the representative of all its citizens, it has a close relation to potential jurors; and since the barriers to suit by an excluded juror are daunting. See Powers, 499 U. S., at 411, 413, 414. Pp. 55-56. (e) A prohibition against the discriminatory exercise of peremptory challenges does not violate a criminal defendant's constitutional rights. It is an affront to justice to argue that the right to a fair trial includes the right to discriminate against a group of citizens based upon their race. Nor does the prohibition violate the Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel, since counsel can normally explain the reasons for peremptory challenges without revealing strategy or confidential communication, and since neither the Sixth Amendment nor the attorney-client privilege gives a defendant the right to carry out through counsel an unlawful course of conduct. In addition, the prohibition does not violate the Sixth Amendment right to a trial by a jury that is impartial with respect to both parties. Removing a juror whom the defendant believes harbors racial prejudice is different from exercising a peremptory challenge to discriminate invidiously against jurors on account of race. Pp. 57-59.

261 Ga. 473, 405 S. E. 2d 688, reversed and remanded.

Blackmun, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and White, Stevens, Kennedy, and Souter, JJ., joined. Rehnquist, C. J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 59. Thomas, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 60. O'Connor, J., post, p. 62, and Scalia, J., post, p. 69, filed dissenting opinions.

Harrison W. Kohler, Senior Assistant Attorney General of Georgia, argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Michael J. Bowers, Attorney General, and Charles M. Richards, Senior Assistant Attorney General.

Michael R. Dreeben argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging reversal. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Starr, Assistant Attorney General Mueller, and Deputy Solicitor General Bryson.


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