The Supreme Court threw out a case about a juror who was said to have racial bias.
The court's three liberal members said that a Texas death row inmate, Kristopher Love, should have been able to fight for his rights.
People on death row in Texas say his jury was biased because of their race. The Supreme Court turned down an appeal from the person on death row on Monday. One of the people on the jury, Kristopher Love, was a Black man, and he didn't like that he could be there because he said he thought "nonwhite races" were more violent.
The court's three liberal members said that the Supreme Court should have told the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state's highest court for criminal cases, to look again at Mr. Love's appeal.
Racism can make it hard for someone to get an impartial jury in a life or death case, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, along with Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan.
The majority, following the court's standard procedure, did not give any reason for not hearing Mr. Love's appeal.
Mr. Love was found guilty of killing someone for money. People who want to be on the jury in his case filled out a questionnaire that asked, among other things, "Do you think that some races and/or ethnic groups tend to be more violent?"
The white person who was asked to be a juror said yes. Stats show that some races commit more violent crimes than other races. I believe that statistics are true.
"News reports and criminal law classes" helped him make his decisions, not his own "personal feelings about a certain race or another," he said when asked by the lawyers in the case. One of the people who could be on the jury said he didn't think that because someone was a certain race, they would be more likely to do something bad than someone who was another race. He said that he would not feel any different about Mr. Love because he is an African American.
Mr. Love's lawyers asked the judge to remove the person from the jury for good reason, but the judge said no. Mr. Love had used up all of his peremptory challenges, so the juror was seated.
A court in Texas said that Mr. Love could not fight the judge's decision to put the juror in because the judge had already given Mr. Love two extra peremptory challenges. Previously, Mr. Love had used those questions to try to get the juror in question out of the way.
In her opinion, Justice Sotomayor said that "a peremptory strike that has been used before does not remove the need to look into the juror's bias."
That's what she said. She said that the state appeals court should look into whether Mr. Love's right to an impartial jury had been broken.
"Biases that could harm a jury's impartiality can come in many forms," she said. "No matter what kind of bias there is, if a judge puts someone on a jury who has a disqualifying prejudice, the decision must be overturned."
Another important part of the effort to "cleanse our jury system of racial bias" was to question potential jurors.
Courts, on the other hand, won't be able to use safeguards like this if they don't even look into claims of racial bias that people bring up. As someone's life is at stake, it's important to look over the record to see if a juror was fair and impartial.