They Try: How the Supreme Court has Addressed Issues of Racial and Gender Discrimination in the Jury Selection Process

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Abstract

The rise of publicized police brutality cases (but not the rise in number of cases themselves) has resulted in an increase of public scrutiny of the court process. More often than not, police officers are found not guilty by a jury of their peers, only for the public to later find out that the jury was composed almost entirely of whites. How did this process start? How does it persist? Has the legal system attempted to address this problem, and discrimination in the jury selection process in general? By examining past Supreme Court decisions, this review explores the ways that the Supreme Court has addressed racial and gender discrimination in the jury selection process. However, since the Court does not have enforcement powers, this review also explores the tactics that prosecutors have developed to skirt around their opinions.

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Jana Kelnhofer

Jana Kelnhofer

Jana Kelnhofer ‘17 graduated with a degree in Political Science with a concentration in Law and Society. Her interests revolve around gender and how it affects several societal processes. She is particularly interested in legal avenues that afford women more rights within the United States, specically with regards to abortion, and the shortcomings that often come with Court decisions. While investigating this topic she often relies on Supreme Court decisions and empirical evidence of particular social conditions. She is constantly questioning the doctrine that declares law as exempt from societal pressures.