Today, the Constitution Project welcomed the Supreme Court’s consideration of arguments in Snyder v. Louisiana. Allen Snyder, an African-American man, was sentenced to death by an all-white jury for the stabbing of his wife’s male companion. After striking all African-Americans from the jury, the prosecutor in the case urged the all-white jury to return a death sentence and not to let Snyder “g[e]t away with it” like O.J. Simpson did.
“Prosecutorial misconduct and racial discrimination are a stain on our criminal justice system,” said Virginia Sloan, president of the Constitution Project. “Mr. Snyder has – as do all defendants, no matter what their race – a constitutional right to fair treatment under the law.”
In September the Constitution Project filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Mr. Snyder, which concluded that this “provocative and impermissible conduct was powerful evidence of the prosecutor’s discriminatory intent to use his peremptory challenges to purge Mr. Snyder’s capital jury of all African Americans,” in violation of the Supreme Court’s 1986 ruling in Batson v. Kentucky.”
In 2006, the Constitution Project’s bipartisan Death Penalty Committee, in “Mandatory Justice: The Death Penalty Revisited,” urged courts to “vigorously enforce[e] Batson … [and] to ensure that members of all races are part of … petit juries that decide guilt and punishment.” The Committee went on to recommend that all “jurisdictions that impose the death penalty should create mechanisms to help ensure that the death penalty is not imposed in a racially discriminatory manner.”