Witherspoon v. Illinois - Significance, Impact
William C. Witherspoon
State of Illinois
It is unconstitutional for a penalty of death to be delivered by a jury that is selected through a process of eliminating certain prospective jurors simply because they voiced general objections to the death penalty or expressed conscientious or religious scruples against imposition of the death penalty.
Chief Lawyer for Petitioner
Albert E. Jenner, Jr.
Chief Lawyer for Respondent
James B. Zagel
Justices for the Court
William J. Brennan, Jr., Warren E. Burger, William O. Douglas, Abe Fortas, Thurgood Marshall, Potter Stewart (writing for the Court)
Hugo Lafayette Black, John Marshall Harlan II, Byron R. White
Date of Decision
3 June 1968
In a death penalty case, it is a violation of the defendant's constitutional right of due process to exclude from the jury persons who have general objections to the death penalty or moral or religious concerns about inflicting it.
- Wainwright v. Witt, 469 U.S. 412 (1985).
- Morgan v. Illinois, 504 U.S. 719 (1992).
- Belt, John C., "Morgan v. Illinois: The Right to Balance Capital Sentencing Juries as to Their Views on the Death Sentence Is Finally Granted to Defendants." New Mexico Law Review, winter 1994.
- New York Times, June 4, 1968.
- Zerman, Melvyn Bernard. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Inside the American Jury System. Crowell, 1981.
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