Should jury duty be limited to citizens?

Jurors - Marietta Attorney

Should jury duty be limited to citizens?

The question of why jury service is limited to citizens has raised a great deal of criticism in the past month. A few weeks ago, California Assembly passed legislation that would allow non-citizens to be eligible for jury service. If the State Senate ends up passing the bill, they would be the only state to ever allow non-citizens to participate in jury duty.

This rule is not something that was necessarily established at a certain point in our country’s history, or through a certain amount of civic knowledge, or community representation. The only qualification or educational requirements are that the potential juror “be adequately proficient in English to satisfactorily complete the juror qualification.” For that matter, many American citizens fail basic literacy test proving that there is already a lack of civic knowledge.

There are some conclusions that can be drawn to why citizenship is so important to being exclusive to jury service. “Citizenship symbolizes and preserves self-government.” Citizens are part of a structural power that allows them to govern themselves through the source of jury duty. It also represents an American identity that most people take great pride in and have fought for the right for in United States History. Many movements such as Woman’s Suffrage and The Civil Rights have worked to gain equality through voting and the right to jury service. Citizenship also helps for an individual to have a relationship between them and their government and allows them to fulfill their civic responsibility.

If the change is made it would show that the jury is continuing to conform and change with social norms like it has done in the past. The controversy the matter has brought up is somewhat positive because it allows Americans to see the value and importance of jury service and how much it matters.

What are your thoughts on the proposed bill? Should non-citizens be allowed to participate? 

Source: The Atlantic, “Why restrict Jury Duty to Citizens?” Andrew Guthrie Ferguson, May 9, 2013.

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