Neal v. Delaware 103 U.S. 370 (1881)

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NEAL v. DELAWARE 103 U.S. 370 (1881)

justice john marshall harlan, for a majority of 7–2, laid down an important principle in jury discrimination cases: the fact that no black person had ever been summoned as a juror in the courts of a state presents "a prima facie case of denial, by the officers charged with the selection of grand and petit jurors, of that equality of protection" secured by the fourteenth amendment. Neal differed from virginia v. rives (1880), here reaffirmed, because the prisoner in Rives had merely alleged the exclusion of blacks, which the state denied, while here the state conceded the exclusion. The state chief justice explained that "the great body of black men residing in this State are utterly unqualified by want of intelligence, experience or moral integrity, to sit on juries." Harlan called that a "violent presumption." Neal did nothing to prevent the elimination of blacks from juries in the South, because in the absence of a state confession of constitutional error, blacks had the burden of proving deliberate and systematic exclusion of their race.

(See norris v. alabama.)

Leonard W. Levy