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An Introduction to Constitutional Law » Strauder v. West Virginia

An introduction to Constitutional Law 100 Supreme Court cases everyone should know

Randy E. Barnett & Josh Blackman

The Supreme Court would consider the constitutionality of this removal law in Strauder v. West Virginia (1880). Taylor Strauder was charged with murdering his wife. Both were African Americans. At the time, West Virginia law limited jury service to white males. Strauder argued that this prosecution “denied rights to which he was entitled under the Constitution.” Therefore, he contended that his case should be removed to federal court. The trial court denied Strauder’s request to remove the case to federal court. Likewise, the West Virginia Supreme Court found no reason “why a jury of white men would not be quite as likely to do justice to the prisoner as a jury of negroes.” Moreover, the court found that the Fourteenth Amendment was not “intended to protect the citizens of any State against unjust legislation by their own State.”

On appeal, the Supreme Court of the United States reversed by a 7-2 vote.

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