Georgia v. McCollum: The Background
Georgia v. McCollum was a landmark case in which the United States Supreme Court held that criminal defendants may not make peremptory challenges solely based on the individual’s race. The case of Georgia v. McCollum was heard before the United States Supreme Court on February 26th of 1992 and decided on June 18th of the same year. The case of Georgia v. McCollum was presided over by Chief Justice William Rehnquist and the following associate judges: Harry Blackmun; Byron White; John Stevens; Sandra Day O’Connor; Antonin Scalia; Anthony Kennedy; David Souter and Clarence Thomas.
Georgia v. McCollum: Facts of the Case
The case of Georgia v. McCollum began in 1990, when the suit’s white respondents Thomas McCollum, Ella Hampton McCollum and William Joseph McCollum were charged with assaulting two black males. Before the criminal trial took place, the prosecution moved to ban the defense from utilizing its peremptory challenges to eliminate blacks from the pool of jurors. The term “preemptory challenge” refers to the right to reject potential jury members during the jury selection process without giving a justified reason to do so. The case, during the trial phase, denied the prosecution’s motion. When the prosecution appealed this initial ruling, the Supreme Court of the state of Georgia affirmed the trial judge’s ruling.
Georgia v. McCollum: The Issue
The issue surrounding Georgia v. McCollum was whether or not the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits a criminal defendant’s use of peremptory challenges to discriminate a potential pool of jurors solely based on the individual’s race.
Georgia v. McCollum: The Decision
In a majority 7 to 2 vote, the United States Supreme Court in Georgia v. McCollum ruled that the exercise of a peremptory challenge in a racially discriminatory manner is a direct violation of the rights of jurors. Moreover, the United States Supreme Court in Georgia v. McCollum held that such an action undermines the integrity of the American judicial system.
Because the Supreme Court of the United States in Georgia v. McCollum determined that peremptory challenges did not constitute state actions, the court found that the use of such challenges for the purpose of racial discrimination is a direct breach or violation of the United State Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. Because of this ruling, the decision rendered by the Georgia Supreme Court was unilaterally reversed.