religious affiliation, religious belief, peremptory challenge, peremptory strike, Florida, Neil, Pacchiana


Today, when it comes to peremptory challenges during jury selection in Florida, it is impermissible to strike a venireperson on the basis of their race, ethnicity,or gender. However, as recent as January 2020, the Florida Supreme Court has declined to adjudge whether it is also impermissible to strike a venireperson on the basis of their religious affiliation. Thiscomment will address the aspect of religion and its impact on persons sitting in judgment against others generally and whether religious affiliation qualifies as a valid ground for a peremptory challenge as both the Florida and federal standards for disqualifications are silent as to religious based peremptory challenges. Particularly, this comment proposes that the Florida Supreme Court should extend its Neil/Slappyline of cases to bar peremptory challenges on the basis of religious affiliation but not religious belief. Religious affiliation, which is defined as a distinct, socially recognized group of citizens, is distinct from religious belief, which is defined as a subscription to a set of beliefs and convictions. Stemming from this difference, the comment argues that striking a juror for religious affiliation violates Article 1, § 16 of the Florida Constitution because religious affiliation is not reflective of a potential juror’s beliefs, attitudes, biases, or competency.

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