ARTICLE: SIXTEEN MILLION ANGRY MEN: REVIVING A DEAD DOCTRINE TO CHALLENGE THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF EXCLUDING FELONS FROM JURY SERVICE Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2009 Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law
Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law

ARTICLE: SIXTEEN MILLION ANGRY MEN: REVIVING A DEAD DOCTRINE TO CHALLENGE THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF EXCLUDING FELONS FROM JURY SERVICE

Fall, 2009

Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law

17 Va. J. Soc. Pol'y & L. 1

Author

James M. Binnall*

Excerpt



I. Introduction
 
Currently, thirty-one states and the federal government permanently bar a convicted felon from serving on a jury. 1 Though the number of Americans living with a felony conviction is difficult to ascertain, 2 some research suggests that felon jury exclusion statutes impact almost sixteen million potential jurors. 3 While far less conspicuous than record-based legislative schemes that restrict voting, statutes that remove felons from the pool of eligible jurors burden an important right and pose dangers to reentry initiatives. 4

Like voting, jury service allows one to invest in the tenets of a free society, thereby promoting inclusion and solidarity. 5 However, unlike felon voter disenfranchisement, 6 courts and scholars have largely ignored the democratic ideals jeopardized by felon jury exclusion. 7 As was the case when legal constructs routinely prevented women and racial minorities from serving on juries, legislative measures that make felons ineligible for jury service damage our collective society by creating a class of outsiders, forced to watch democracy move forward with only limited opportunities to influence its direction. 8 While constitutional challenges to felon jury exclusion almost always originate from interested litigants, 9 some scholars contend that "it is the interests of the excluded felons that are most directly implicated." 10 Yet, attacks on these blanket prohibitions levied by excluded felon jurors have failed consistently. 11 The Supreme Court does not recognize the right to sit on a jury as fundamental 12 and has not characterized those with a felony conviction as ...
 
 
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