Thirty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the elimination of potential jurors solely on the basis of race unconstitutional. Yet, the justice system still grapples with the issue of racial discrimination in the jury selection process. However, a recent ruling by the highest court in the land may indicate that change is on the horizon.
The Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of a Black death row inmate named Timothy Tyrone Foster in a case involving racial bias in jury selection, CNN.com reports. Foster was convicted for the 1987 murder of Queen Madge White, an elderly white woman. The jury that convicted him was all white.
Monday’s 7-1 verdict was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, according to The Week. Justice Clarence Thomas, the court’s lone African-American justice, was the only one to dissent.
“Foster’s new evidence does not justify this court’s reassessment of who was telling the truth nearly three decades removed from voir dire,” Thomas said.
Ever since the ruling was handed down, critics have taken to Twitter to rip into the Supreme Court justice for casting the only vote against the Black death row inmate.
Clarence Thomas, you gotta respect his literal dogmatic interpretation of law, he'd happily send himself back to slavery without hesitation
— Fat (@Bloke_On_A_Bike) May 23, 2016
7 Supreme Court Justices ruled in favor of a Black man on Death Row. The 8th, Clarence Thomas, ruled in favor of the Original 13 Colonies.
— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) May 23, 2016
Clarence Thomas has serious psychological problems. That man has Stockholm syndrome like no body I have ever seen. He needs help.
— Carolyn (@CKHyppolite) May 23, 2016
According to CNN.com, Foster’s lawyers have reportedly obtained notes written by the prosecution during their jury selection process. Throughout the notes, the names of potential African-American jurors were highlighted and marked with a “b” for Black.
Foster’s attorneys assert that the notes clearly display the prosecution’s effort to intentionally eliminate each and every prospective Black juror. The state of Georgia (where Foster is serving his time) disagrees, arguing that the notes simply show the prosecutors’ preparation for a “racial bias challenge,” according to CNN.com.