What is J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel. T.B.?
J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel. T.B. is a landmark Supreme Court Case which held that making peremptory challenges based solely on a prospective juror’s sex is wholly unconstitutional. The case of J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel. T.B. stated that intentional discrimination on the basis of sex on part of the state during jury selection violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The case of J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel. T.B. begins with the state of Alabama acting on behalf of T.B. (the mother in the case) to seek paternity and child support from J.E.B (the putative father). The original trial of J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel. T.B. saw the jury side with T.B. That said, when forming the jury, the state of Alabama used its peremptory strikes to terminate nine of the ten men who were placed in the jury pool—the father used a tenth peremptory challenge to strike a tenth male candidate from being placed in the jury pool.
Before going into details of the case, one must understand what a peremptory challenge is. Simply put, the action typically refers to a right in jury selection for the prosecution and defense to reject a certain number of potential jurors who appear to hold an unfavorable bias. When using a peremptory challenge the defense or prosecution is not required to provide a reason for eliminating a candidate from the pool of jurors. The premise behind this maneuver is that if both parties contribute to the formation of the jury pool, they will find its verdict more appropriate or acceptable.
J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel. T.B.: The Question
The question of J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel. T.B. was: does the use of peremptory challenges to impede jurors from hearing a case solely because of their gender violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?
J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel. T.B.: The Decision
The decision of J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel. T.B. was rendered as a 6 to 3 vote for the father. The ruling offered by J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel. T.B. stated that the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection bars the exclusion of potential jurors on the basis of their gender. This ruling views the termination of potential jurors based on sex as a discriminatory action. Therefore, the court believed that a gender-based classification requires an exceedingly persuasive justification to follow the laws set forth by the United States Constitution. As a result of the decision in J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel. T.B. parties to the lawsuit may remove jurors whom they feel are less acceptable than others on the panel; however, the jurors gender does not serve as a proxy for bias.