Holland v. Illinois

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Holland v. Illinois by Antonin Scalia
Court Documents
Concurring Opinion
Dissenting Opinions

United States Supreme Court

493 U.S. 474

Holland  v.  Illinois

No. 88-5050  Argued: Oct. 11, 1989. --- Decided: Jan 22, 1990

See 494 U.S. 1050, 110 S.Ct. 1514.


During jury selection at his state-court trial on various felony charges, petitioner, who is white, objected to the State's peremptory challenges that struck the two black venire members from the petit jury, on the ground that he had a Sixth Amendment right to "be tried by a representative cross section of the community." The trial judge overruled the objection, and petitioner was convicted of all but one of the charges. On appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the convictions and rejected petitioner's Sixth Amendment challenge to the exclusion of black jurors.


1. Petitioner has standing to raise a Sixth Amendment challenge to the exclusion of blacks from his jury. Although a defendant, in order to establish a prima facie Equal Protection Clause violation, "must show that he is a member of a cognizable racial group . . . and that the prosecutor has exercised peremptory challenges to remove from the venire members of the defendant's race," Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 96, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 1723, 90 L.Ed.2d 69, this Court has never suggested that such correlation between the group identification of the defendant and the group identification of the excluded venire member is necessary for Sixth Amendment standing. To the contrary, the Sixth Amendment entitles every defendant to object to a venire that is not designed to represent a fair cross section of the community. That petitioner seeks an extension of the fair-cross-section requirement from the venire to the petit jury does not affect his standing to assert it. Pp. 476-477.

2. Petitioner's Sixth Amendment claim is without merit because a prohibition upon the exclusion of cognizable groups through peremptory challenges has no basis in the Amendment's text, is without support in this Court's decisions, and would undermine rather than further the Amendment's guarantee of the right to trial by "an impartial jury." The Amendment's requirement that the venire from which the jury is chosen represent a fair cross section of the community constitutes a means of assuring, not a representative jury (which the Constitution does not demand), but an impartial one (which it does). Without such a requirement, the State would have, in effect, unlimited peremptory challenges to compose the pool from which the jury is drawn in its favor. This Court's decisions make clear that in no way can the fair-cross-section requirement be interpreted to prohibit peremptory challenges. See, e.g., Lockhart v. McCree, 476 U.S. 162, 173, 106 S.Ct. 1758, 1765, 90 L.Ed.2d 137. Such challenges have been considered "a necessary part of trial by jury," Swain v. Alabama, 380 U.S. 202, 219, 85 S.Ct. 824, 835, 13 L.Ed.2d 759, and serve the Sixth Amendment's goal of impartiality by permitting both the defendant and the State to eliminate prospective jurors belonging to groups they believe would unduly favor the other side, thereby removing extremes of partiality on both sides. Thus, the constitutional goal of "an impartial jury" would positively be obstructed by a petit jury fair-cross-section requirement, which would cripple the peremptory challenge device. The rule of Batson, supra, cannot be incorporated into the Sixth Amendment. Although that case extended the Equal Protection Clause's prohibition of race-based exclusion from the venire stage to the individual petit jury stage, it did so not because the two stages are inseparably linked, but because the Fourteenth Amendment's intransigent prohibition of racial discrimination applies to both. This case does not present an equal protection issue, and race as such has nothing to do with the question before the Court. Petitioner is not a black man and his Sixth Amendment claim would be just as strong if the object of the State's exclusion of jurors had been, not blacks, but any other identifiable group. Pp. 477-488.

121 Ill.2d 136, 117 Ill.Dec. 109, 520 N.E.2d 270, affirmed.

SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and WHITE, O'CONNOR, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. KENNEDY, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, 488. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined, post, 490. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, 504.

Donald S. Honchell, Chicago, Ill., for petitioner.

Inge Fryklund, Chicago, Ill., for respondent.

Justice SCALIA delivered the opinion of the Court.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).