A brief survey of news and social media confirms a rather obvious proposition: The citizens of our nation harbor deep biases. Some of those are innocuous and help us navigate the world. Others are more pernicious, and our legal system exists in no small part to neutralize the impact of those impermissible biases. In Peña Rodriguez v. Colorado, the U.S. Supreme Court is grappling with the issue of racial bias in the decision-making of a criminal trial jury.

Background

This case stems from a sexual assault in May 2007. Two teenage girls reported that a man entered the restroom at a horse-racing track, where the father of one of the girls worked. The man asked if the girls wanted to “party”; when they refused, he turned off the lights and groped them. The girls later identified Peña Rodriguez, an employee at the race track, as the assailant.

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