1961 November 20

Supreme Court Upholds Exclusion of Women From Juries

 

In Hoyt v. Florida, decided on this day, the Supreme Court held that women could be excluded from serving on juries, in part because a “woman is still regarded as the center of home and family life.” Women could serve on juries, but they had to go to the courthouse and register as being interested and willing to serve. At the time this case first went to trial, only 20 out of about 46,000 women who were registered to vote in Hillsborough County, Florida, had also registered to be a juror.

The Court reversed itself 14 years later, in Taylor v. Louisiana (January 21, 1975), which affirmed the right of women to serve on juries.

The Florida law: “The name of no female person shall be taken for jury service unless said person has registered with the clerk of the circuit court her desire to be placed on the jury list.”

But the Court held that: “The relative paucity of women jurors does not carry the constitutional consequence appellant would have it bear.”

Learn more about the history of women and jury duty: http://www.msmagazine.com/summer2004/justverdicts.asp

Read about the history of juries: Dennis Hale, The Jury in America: Triumph and Decline (2016)

And more from the ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/blog/womens-rights/jury-ones-peers

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