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Racial and Gender Discrimination in Jury Service


            The case Strauder vs West Virginia, 100 US 303 (1880) was a Supreme Court case pertaining to discrimination of race in jury service. Former slave, Taylor Strauder, was convicted for murdering his wife. He was scheduled to die by hanging. At that time only white males were allowed to serve on juries. Since blacks were not allowed to serve on juries, he challenged the verdict of the West Virginia court. Strauder argued to the state court that a law that limited jury service to only white male citizens denied him equal protection of the law. His argument was unsuccessful in the state court. However, he appealed his case and the Supreme Court found that colored people are singled out and denied by a statute all right to participate as jurors ┬áis practically a brand upon them, affixed by the law, an assertion of their inferiority which makes it unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment equal protection clause. The Fourteenth Amendment prohibits states from denying any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the law, meaning that state law must treat an individual in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances. It was designed to protect Blacks and eliminate discrimination on the basis of race altogether. In order for the Supreme Court to reach its conclusion in this case, strict scrutiny which is the highest level of scrutiny was used in this case because it deals with race discrimination.
             Discrimination based on one's race is wrong and a violation of individuals rights. People should be treated equally based on similarities, and race should not play a role in that assessment. African Americans have suffered discrimination initially through the system of slavery, and then through a pattern of exclusion, in the legislation and court decisions. Even after slavery ended in 1865, race discrimination still occurred in the justice system. Following the Civil War, amendments to the Bill of Rights granted all persons, regardless of race, a right to equal protection.


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