Taylor v. Louisiana

PETITIONER: Billy J. Taylor
RESPONDENT: State of Louisiana
LOCATION: Twenty-Second Judicial District Court for the Parish of St. Tammany

DOCKET NO.: 73-5744
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: Louisiana Supreme Court

CITATION: 419 US 522 (1975)
ARGUED: Oct 16, 1974
DECIDED: Jan 21, 1975

ADVOCATES:
Kendall L. Vick - for appellee
William McM. King -

Facts of the case

Billy J. Taylor was indicted on kidnapping charges by the grand jury of St. Tammany Parish. The day before his trial was supposed to start, he filed a motion to quash the petit jury that was selected for his trial because he argued that women were systematically excluded, which denied him a right to trial by a jury of his peers. Although 53% of eligible jurors in his district were female, only 10% of the jury wheel was female. This discrepancy was due to an article of the Louisiana Constitution that specifies that a woman could not be selected for jury service unless she had previously submitted a written declaration of her desire to serve. The trial court dismissed Taylor’s motion, and he was tried and found guilty. He appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court, which held that the article regulating women’s jury service did not violate federal law.

Question

Does an article of the Louisiana state constitution that limits female jury service violate a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a jury of his peers?

Media for Taylor v. Louisiana

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 16, 1974 in Taylor v. Louisiana

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 21, 1975 in Taylor v. Louisiana

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in 73-5744, Taylor against Louisiana will be announced by Mr. Justice White.

Byron R. White:

This is a criminal case that comes here from the courts of Louisiana where the petitioner Taylor's conviction was affirmed by the Louisiana Supreme Court.

At the time of the conviction the statutes of the state provided that women would not be called for jury service unless they had filed a written declaration in advance if they desire to be subject to jury service.

The consequence was that hardly any women were called to serve on the criminal case juries.

The issue here is whether this jury selection system comports with the Sixth and the Fourteenth Amendments to be -- to the constitution.

For the reasons we state in the opinion on file with the clerk, we hold that it does not and we consequently reverse the conviction of petitioner Taylor.

The Chief Justice concurs in the judgment Mr. Justice Rehnquist has filed a dissenting opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice White.