Amicus Brief

People v. Bridgeforth (New York Court of Appeals, 2016)

At issue in this case is whether excluding an individual from jury service based on the color of her skin violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. In this case the appellant asserted that the prosecutor improperly used his peremptory strikes to exclude all dark-skinned women from the jury. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Batson v. Kentucky, held that when a prosecutor uses a peremptory strike that raises an inference of racial discrimination, she must provide a race-neutral reason for the strike. The State of New York contends that skin color (as opposed to race) cannot form the basis of a protected class under Batson. ADL joined a brief written by the Korematsu Center arguing that skin color should be recognized under Batson. The brief outlines research and real-world examples documenting the pernicious impact of color discrimination in criminal sentencing, employment, education, politics, and popular culture, both within and across different races.