Women Serving on Juries
Controversies regarding the composition of juries did not focus solely on race. Beginning in 1961, the issue of women being considered for jury duty became contested legal ground. In justifying the exclusion of their female citizens, several states cited women as the "center of home and family life" who should be relieved of this burden. However, in Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522 (1975), the court ruled that systematic exclusion of female jurors failed to meet the "fair cross section" guaranteed by constitutional amendments. Taylor did not settle the law, as other states continued to limit the number of female jurors by allowing exemptions from service. In her last appearance before the Supreme Court as a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, future Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued that such exemptions, even if voluntary, devalued women as citizens and violated a defendant's right by "diluting the qual[ity] of community judgment a crim[inal] j[ury] t[ria]l provides."