Hernandez v. Texas

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Hernandez v. Texas
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued January 11, 1954
Decided May 3, 1954
Full case name Pete Hernandez v. State of Texas
Citations 347 U.S. 475 (more)
74 S. Ct. 667; 98 L. Ed. 866; 1954 U.S. LEXIS 2128
Prior history Cert. to the Court of Criminal Appeals for Texas. Hernandez v. State, 160 Tex. Crim. 72, 251 S.W.2d 531, 1952 Tex. Crim. App. LEXIS 1421 (Tex. Crim. App., 1952)
The Court decided that Mexican Americans and all other racial groups in the United States had equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Warren, joined by unanimous
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. XIV

Hernandez v. Texas, 347 U.S. 475 (1954),[1] was a landmark United States Supreme Court case that decided that Mexican Americans and all other racial groups in the United States had equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.


Pete Hernandez, a Mexican-American agricultural worker, was convicted for the murder of Joe Espinosa. Hernandez's legal team set out to demonstrate that the jury could not be impartial unless members of non-Caucasian races were allowed on the jury-selecting committees; no Mexican-American had been on a jury for at least 25 years in Jackson County, the Texas county in which the case was tried. Hernandez and his lawyers appealed to the Texas Supreme court, and appealed again to the United States Supreme Court. The legal team included Gustavo C. Garcia, Carlos C. Cadena, James DeAnda, Cris Aldrete, and John J. Herrera.


Chief Justice Earl Warren and the rest of the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Hernandez, and required he be retried with a jury composed without regard to ethnicity. The Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment protects those beyond the racial classes of white or black, and extends to other racial groups.

Social implications[edit]

The ruling was yet another step forward in the American Civil Rights Movement and another hit to racial segregation in the USA. This time, racial minorities other than African Americans benefited from such a ruling. The ultimate impact of this ruling was that now all racial groups of the United States were protected under the 14th Amendment.

The oral arguments of this case have been lost. However, the United States Supreme Court docket sheet and letter from Justice Clark to Chief Justice regarding joining opinion are available online.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Soltero, Carlos R. (2006). "Hernandez v. Texas (1954) and the exclusion of Mexican-Americans and grand juries". Latinos and American Law: Landmark Supreme Court Cases. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. pp. 37–47. ISBN 0-292-71411-4. 
  • Olivas, Michael A., ed. (2006). "Colored men" and "hombres aquí" : Hernández v. Texas and the emergence of Mexican-American lawyering. Hispanic Civil Rights Series. Foreword by Mark Tushnet. Houston, TX:Arte Público Press. ISBN 1-55885-476-2. OCLC 64592184. 

External links[edit]

Court documents[edit]