Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1989


Batson v. Kentucky, Strauder v. West Virginia, Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, Swain v. Alabama, Racial discrimination in jury selection


Criminal Procedure


Some one hundred and six years before the United States Supreme Court's 1986 decision in Batson v. Kentucky the Court ruled that a black person is denied the equal protection of the laws when the State seeks to convict him of a criminal offense in a proceeding in which members of his race have been excluded from serving on the jury. From this straightforward and common-sense beginning, the Court stumbled and lurched for more than a century before arriving at another equally straightforward and common-sense decision in Batson. The purpose of this article is to examine the Supreme Court's decision in Batson in light of both the decisions that preceded it and the meaning given the Court's ruling by other state and federal courts. Primarily, however, this article will focus on the first generation of the South Carolina Supreme Court's decisions grappling with Batson. After examining the state court's rulings, this article will maintain that although racial discrimination in jury selection is a sensitive and difficult matter for both trial and appellate courts, the South Carolina Supreme Court, at least in its early decisions, has taken an unduly restrictive view of the United States Supreme Court's holding in Batson. The article will contend that the deferential analysis employed by the South Carolina Supreme Court, for all practical purposes, has rendered the High Court's mandate meaningless and, furthermore, that such an approach is not only legally unsound but is unwise both as a matter of policy and of court administration.

Publication Citation

Published in: South Carolina Law Review, vol. 40, no. 2 (Winter 1989).