Supreme Court Declines to Consider Excluding Jurors for Religious Beliefs in Case with Lesbian Plaintiff

Credits: Reuters

The Supreme Court declined to review a case involving potential jurors’ exclusion based on their religious views on homosexuality in an employment dispute concerning a lesbian worker.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s appeal, which raised questions about employment discrimination allegations against the state’s Department of Corrections, was rejected by the court.

Justice Samuel Alito, a conservative, agreed with the decision not to hear the case due to technical legal reasons but emphasized its significance. The lawsuit, brought by employee Jean Finney, alleged retaliation by a colleague after she entered a same-sex relationship with his former spouse.

During jury selection, Finney’s lawyer queried potential jurors about their traditional religious beliefs and upbringing regarding homosexuality.

While lawyers can exclude jurors without reason, they are prohibited from doing so based on race and gender, as established by previous Supreme Court decisions.

US Supreme Court (Credits:

The focus of the case centered on two jurors who viewed homosexual activity as a sin but also believed homosexuals should have equal rights. The judge excluded three jurors with conservative Christian beliefs, leading to contention.

Alito pointed out the case’s implications, highlighting the fallout from the 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. He warned against labeling those with religious objections to same-sex relationships as bigots, despite the Court’s clarification that such views should not lead to such stigmatization.

Following the state’s loss, its lawyers sought a new trial based on jury selection. However, both the Missouri Court of Appeals and the Missouri Supreme Court rejected the appeal, prompting Bailey’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bailey argued against excluding jurors based solely on their religious status, conceding that bias resulting from religious views could warrant exclusion.

Finney’s legal team countered, asserting that her sexuality was central to the case and justified the exclusion of jurors displaying bias against homosexuals.

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