Strauder v. West Virginia

Procedural History

Was unable to move to federal court, and therefore was not able to protest the white jury panel only.

Facts

P was convicted of murder.  In West Virginia, it stated “all white male persons who are 21 years of age, and who are citizens of this state, shall be liable to serve as jurors.”

Issue

Does every citizen have a right to a trial by jury, selected to him and impaneled without discrimination against his race or color?

Holding

YES.

Rule

14th amendment – that the law of the states shall be the same for the black as for the white; that all persons, whether colored or white, shall stand equal before the laws of the States, and, in regards to the colored race, for whose protection the amendment was primarily designed for, that no discrimination shall be made against them by color.

Court reasoning

Intent of drafters – to ensure civil liberty unto all people of the black race.

  • All the same civil rights that the superior race enjoyed.

–          14th protects them against unfriendly laws and legislation w/in the state where they reside (constitution supremacy clause).

  • Colored race especially needed protection against unfriendly laws of the states, and to give this race protection, the general government had to step in.
  • Its aim was against an emancipated race.

–          The fact that the W.V. law singles the black race out, it is a “brand upon them, affixed by law, an assertion of inferiority, and a stimulant to that race prejudice which is an impediment to securing to individuals of the race that equal justice which the aw aims to secure to all others.”

Notes

Dissent

–        What about the equal protection to women and children…how are these upheld by the 14th amendment?

–        Majorities argument, that exclusion from jury service is prohibited, has many flaws…as is the case w/ women, children, aliens, elderly…etc…

–        Problem with the 14th amendment, created that natural rights (i.e. civil rights), such as freedoms, and equality were protected…however, it leaves political rights, as they stood previous to this amendment (i.e. arise from the government and there mode of administration).

–        Whites will always vote against blacks, it is based upon a theory of subordination,

–        Equality = neutrality.

–        Anti-subordination, means that we take into differences to make sure the outcomes are equal .

–        “It’s about the fairness of the process.”

–        Institutionalizing an idea that they are inferior.

–        Is it because of race?

–        THE RIGHTS OF THE MAJORITY CAN BE PROTECTED BY THE MAJORITY – EQUALITY NEEDS TO PROTECT AGAINST THE MINORITIES – if we do not need to worry about equality.

–        Formal equality, minorities, anti-subordination (3 main principles) all showing what the 14th amendment is promising.

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