In our representative democracy we guarantee equal participation for all, but we fall short of this promise in so many domains of our civic life. From the schoolhouse, to the jailhouse, to the courthouse, racial minorities are underrepresented among key public decision-makers, such as judges, police officers, and teachers. This gap between our aspirations for representative democracy and the reality that our judges, police officers, and teachers are often woefully under-representative of the racially diverse communities they serve leaves many citizens of color wanting for the democratic guarantee of equal participation. This critical failure of our democracy threatens to undermine the legitimacy of these important civic institutions. It deepens mistrust between minority communities and the justice system and exacerbates the failures of a public education system already lacking accountability to minority students.

But there is hope for rebuilding the trust, accountability and legitimacy of these civic institutions on behalf of minority citizens. There is one place where we have demonstrated a deeper commitment to our guarantee of democratic equality on behalf of minority citizens and exerted greater effort to that end than perhaps in any other domain of our civic life—the jury box. This paper recounts this important history and explores the political theory underlying the equal protection jurisprudence of jury selection. It then applies these lessons gleaned from the jury context to the constitutional defense of efforts to achieve greater racial diversity within the judiciary, law enforcement, and public education, all of which are as important to the legitimacy of our democracy today as the jury has been throughout American history.