Stevens, J., dissenting
granted. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
Justice Stevens, with whom Justice Breyer joins, dissenting.
In my opinion it is unwise for the Court to announce a law-changing decision without first ordering full briefing and argument on the merits of the case. The Court does this today when it overrules a portion of our opinion in Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U. S. 79 (1986).1
In Batson, the Court held that the Equal Protection
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment forbids a prosecutor to use peremptory challenges to exclude African-Americans from jury service because of their race. The Court articulated a three-step process for proving such violations. First, a pattern of peremptory challenges of black jurors may establish a prima facie case of discriminatory purpose. Second, the prosecutor may rebut that prima face case by tendering a race-neutral explanation for the strikes. Third, the court must decide whether that explanation is pretextual. Id., at 96-98. At the second step of this inquiry, neither a mere denial of improper motive nor an incredible explanation will suffice to rebut the prima facie showing of discriminatory purpose. At a minimum, as the Court held in Batson, the prosecutor "must articulate a neutral explanation related to the particular case to be tried." Id., at 98.2
1 This is the second time this Term that the Court has misused its summary reversal authority in this way. See Duncan v. Henry, 513 U. S. 364, 367 (1995) (Stevens, J., dissenting).
2 We explained: "Nor may the prosecutor rebut the defendant's case merely by denying that he had a discriminatory motive or 'affirm[ing] [his] good faith in making individual selections.' Alexander v. Louisiana, 405 U. S., at 632. If these general assertions were accepted as rebutting a defendant's prima facie case, the Equal Protection Clause 'would be but a vain and illusory requirement.' Norris v. Alabama, [294 U. S. 587, 598Page: Index Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Next
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