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Abstract

We are coming upon the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court's opinion in Batson v. Kentucky, which made clear that our Constitution does not permit prosecutors to remove prospective jurors from the jury pool because of their race. The legal question in Batson-when, if ever, can governmental race discrimination in jury selection be tolerated?-was easy. The lingering factual question, however-when will prosecutors cease to discriminate on the basis of race?-has proven far more difficult to answer. The evidence that district attorneys still exclude minorities because of their race is so compelling that it is tempting to assume that race will always factor into lawyers' decisions about whom to keep on the jury and whom to exclude. Yet, until the Supreme Court holds lower courts accountable when they fail to meaningfully enforce the protections of Batson, we cannot know if the law goes far enough, and race will continue to permeate jury selections.