Georgia v. McCollum, 505 U.S. 42, 18 (1992)

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

Rehnquist, C. J., concurring

But there is a distinction between exercising a peremptory challenge to discriminate invidiously against jurors on account of race and exercising a peremptory challenge to remove an individual juror who harbors racial prejudice. This Court firmly has rejected the view that assumptions of partiality based on race provide a legitimate basis for disqualifying a person as an impartial juror. As this Court stated just last Term in Powers, "[w]e may not accept as a defense to racial discrimination the very stereotype the law condemns." 499 U. S., at 410. "In our heterogeneous society policy as well as constitutional considerations militate against the divisive assumption—as a per se rule—that justice in a court of law may turn upon the pigmentation of skin, the accident of birth, or the choice of religion." Ristaino v. Ross, 424 U. S. 589, 596, n. 8 (1976). We therefore reaffirm today that the exercise of a peremptory challenge must not be based on either the race of the juror or the racial stereotypes held by the party.


We hold that the Constitution prohibits a criminal defendant from engaging in purposeful discrimination on the ground of race in the exercise of peremptory challenges. Accordingly, if the State demonstrates a prima facie case of racial discrimination by the defendants, the defendants must articulate a racially neutral explanation for peremptory challenges. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Georgia is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered.

Chief Justice Rehnquist, concurring.

I was in dissent in Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Co., 500 U. S. 614 (1991), and continue to believe that case to have been wrongly decided. But so long as it remains the law, I believe that it controls the disposition of this case on the


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