Georgia v. McCollum, 505 U.S. 42, 6 (1992)

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

Opinion of the Court

397 (1881); Norris v. Alabama, 294 U. S. 587, 599 (1935) (State cannot exclude African-Americans from jury venire on false assumption that they, as a group, are not qualified to serve as jurors).

In Swain v. Alabama, 380 U. S. 202 (1965), the Court was confronted with the question whether an African-American defendant was denied equal protection by the State's exercise of peremptory challenges to exclude members of his race from the petit jury. Id., at 209-210. Although the Court rejected the defendant's attempt to establish an equal protection claim premised solely on the pattern of jury strikes in his own case, it acknowledged that proof of systematic exclusion of African-Americans through the use of peremptories over a period of time might establish such a violation. Id., at 224-228.

In Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U. S. 79 (1986), the Court discarded Swain's evidentiary formulation. The Batson Court held that a defendant may establish a prima facie case of purposeful discrimination in selection of the petit jury based solely on the prosecutor's exercise of peremptory challenges at the defendant's trial. Id., at 87. "Once the defendant makes a prima facie showing, the burden shifts to the State to come forward with a neutral explanation for challenging black jurors." Id., at 97.4

Last Term this Court applied the Batson framework in two other contexts. In Powers v. Ohio, 499 U. S. 400 (1991), it held that in the trial of a white criminal defendant, a prosecutor is prohibited from excluding African-American jurors

4 The Batson majority specifically reserved the issue before us today. 476 U. S., at 89, n. 12. The two Batson dissenters, however, argued that the "clear and inescapable import" was that Batson would similarly limit defendants. Id., at 125-126. Justice Marshall agreed, stating: "[O]ur criminal justice system 'requires not only freedom from any bias against the accused, but also from any prejudice against his prosecution. Between him and the state the scales are to be evenly held.' Hayes v. Missouri, 120 U. S. 68, 70 (1887)." Id., at 107 (concurring opinion).


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