Attorney General Ken Paxton joined seven other states in an amicus brief before the en banc U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, arguing that a Florida district court had wrongfully excluded a juror because of his religious beliefs and that the court’s decision should be reversed.
In our religiously diverse nation, juries of our peers will necessarily include religious individuals of all faiths. Some seek divine guidance in their decision-making and that does not render them ineligible to serve as jurors. In this case, the excluded juror’s beliefs did not prevent him from sitting in judgment on his peers or from imposing any particular forms of punishment; he was committed to abiding by his oath, following the court’s instructions, and basing his decision on the law and evidence. The fact that he expressed his religious beliefs in vivid terms during deliberations does not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he was unable to fulfill his constitutional duty as a juror. To categorically exclude jurors such as the juror in this case amounts to discrimination on the basis of faith.
Read a copy of the filing here.