Georgia v. McCollum

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Georgia v. McCollum
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued February 26, 1992
Decided June 18, 1992
Full case name Georgia, Petitioner v. Thomas McCollum, William Joseph McCollum and Ella Hampton McCollum
Citations 505 U.S. 42 (more)
112 S.Ct. 2348
The Constitution prohibits a criminal defendant from engaging in purposeful discrimination on the ground of race in the exercise of peremptory challenges.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Blackmun, joined by Rehnquist, White, Stevens, Kennedy, Souter
Concurrence Thomas
Dissent O'Connor
Dissent Scalia

Georgia v. McCollum, 505 U.S. 42 (1992),[1] was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that a criminal defendant cannot make peremptory challenges based solely on race. The court had previously held in Batson v. Kentucky (1986) that prosecutors cannot make peremptory challenges based on race, but didn't address whether defendants could use them. The court had already ruled in Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Company (1991) that the Batson prohibition also applies to civil litigants because they are state actors during the jury selection process.

However, in Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312 (1981), the court had held that a public defender is not a state actor in the context of a lawsuit for inadequate legal representation. McCollum argued that Polk County was the controlling precedent, so public defenders are not state actors during jury selection. Writing for the court, Justice Harry Blackmun disagreed. Blackmun found that whether a public defender is a state actor "depends on the nature and context of the function he is performing."[2] Just as he is a state actor in the context of personnel decisions like hiring and firing attorneys in his office, a public defender is a state actor in the context of peremptory challenges. Like in Edmonson, Blackmun found that race-based peremptory challenges by the defendant violate the Equal Protection Clause and are therefore unconstitutional.

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  1. ^ 505 U.S. 42 Full text of the opinion on
  2. ^ Ibid., at 54.

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