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J.E.B. V. Alabama Essay

Issue: Whether the petitioner’s right were violated under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when the state used its’ peremptory challenges to exclude potential male jurors?

Rule: The legal rule states “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” (Corley, Reed, Shedd, and Morehead, 1999, p.409).

The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from denying any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. In other words, the laws of a state must treat an individual in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances.

Analysis: When using a peremptory challenge, no reason or cause needs to be given to excuse a juror. The jury panel started with twice as many female jurors than males. Two male jurors were excused by the court for cause. The state used the majority of their peremptory challenges to remove male jurors. The petitioner used the majority of his peremptory challenges to remove the female jurors. This left an all female jury.

The state maintained the reason they excluded the males from the jury was because a reasonable deduction could be made that men would be more sympathetic to arguments of a man named in a paternity suit. The Supreme Court decision stated that gender alone could not be used to justify gender-based peremptory challenges.

By excusing the male jurors based solely on gender, these potential jurors rights were also violated under the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments by depriving them of citizenship because of race or gender. These potential jurors are also deprived of the jury participation process.

The purpose of peremptory challenges is also to make sure a fair and impartial jury is selected. By using stereotypes and assumptions to select jurors, impartiality cannot be obtained.

Conclusion: Gender alone should not be used to select jurors. Impartiality is the goal for both the plaintiff and the defendant. Rather than use peremptory challenges to select or exclude jurors based on gender, attorneys should use voir dire to question each potential juror to obtain some indication of bias.

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