Strauder v. West Virginia Case Brief

Why is the case important?

A West Virginia statute limited jury service to white men. Strauder, a black man, was convicted of murder by a trial court in West Virginia.

Facts of the case

A West Virginia law declared that only whites may serve on juries.

Question

Did Strauder’s conviction by a jury selected pursuant to the statute violate the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution)?

Answer

Yes. The judgments of the Supreme Court of West Virginia and the Circuit Court of Ohio County are reversed.
Justice William Strong said the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution gave to blacks the right to be free from unfriendly legislation directed at them on the basis of their race. The West Virginia statute concerning juries is the quintessential legislation the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution was designed to prohibit. The fact that blacks as such are singled out and expressly denied by statute the right to participate in the administration of justice, as jurors, places a brand upon them and impedes their ability to secure the equal justice the law aims to secure for all others.

Conclusion

The court held that the state statute unconstitutionally discriminated on the basis of race and that it amounted to a denial of equal protection. The court further ruled that the congressional power to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment gave Congress sufficient authority to enact the federal removal statute. The court concluded that Congress had the power to authorize removal when a right under federal law or the U.S. Constitution was involved. Therefore, it was error for the state trial court to proceed to trial after defendant filed for removal based on a denial of equal protection.

  • Case Brief: 1880
  • Petitioner: Strauder
  • Respondent: West Virginia
  • Decided by: Waite Court

  • Citation: 100 US 303 (1880)
    Argued: Oct 22, 1879
  • Oct 20, 1879
    Decided: Mar 1, 1880″