This was originally posted on PrawfsBlawg as part of the Strange Bedfellows series.
Jury selection appears often in the Con Law canon. The first SCOTUS case to find a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, Strauder v. West Virginia (1879), involved a statute that included only white men in the jury pool. Hoyt v. Florida (1961), an anti-canonical case usually taught as an example of the bad old days before sex classifications were deemed (quasi-) suspect, involved a law that excused women from the jury pool. Batson v. Kentucky (1986) involved a prosecutor’s peremptory strikes on the basis of race, but it tends to be taught in Criminal Procedure courses. Its progeny Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete (1991) applied Batson to peremptory strikes in civil cases; it is taught more often in introductory Con Law courses than is Batson, because it is conceptualized as a case about the state action doctrine. More recently, the first US Court of
Appeals decision holding sexual orientation to be a (quasi-) suspect classification (included in my casebook) arose in the civil Batson context, after a gay man was peremptorily stricken from a jury deciding an antitrust claim against a manufacturer of HIV medications. SmithKline Beecham v. Abbott Labs, 740 F.3d 471 (9th Cir. 2014).
These decisions are often taught and presented in casebooks as if jury selection just happens to be the factual setting in which a legal question (usually involving equal protection) just happens to arise. This is a lost opportunity, because the jury trial can be worthy of independent consideration in a Con Law survey course. Even if not taught together on the same day or same unit, it can be valuable to use such cases to emphasize the jury as an institution of constitutional dimension.