U.S. Supreme Court Gives Plaintiffs Helpful?Language on Proving Pretext

In ?this ?recent ?Batson? case, ?the ?Supreme ?Court found the State?s race-neutral reasons for striking Black jurors were pretexts for unlawful discrimination. ?The Court ruled that the proffered justifications were both ?suspicious? and ?implausible.? ?The seven-Justice majority opinion authored by Justice Alito cited both St. Mary?s Honor Ctr. and earlier Batson cases with even stronger language regarding proof of pretext:?The ?proffer of [a] pretextual explanation naturally gives rise to an inference of discriminatory intent.? (emphasis added).??Implausible or fantastic justifications may (and probably?? will)?? be?? found?? to?? be?? pretexts?? for purposeful discrimination.?? ?128 S. Ct. at 1212 (internal citations omitted).

Particularly striking was the Court?s treatment of which White jurors were similarly situated to the struck Black jurors. ?The Court did not require the White jurors to be similar in every conceivable respect.?? It was enough that there was a relevant ?shared characteristic.? ?Id. at 1211. ?The case also contains a very succinct description of causation in discrimination cases:? ??Once it is shown that a discriminatory ?intent? was ?a ?substantial ?or motivating factor in an action . . ., the burden shifts to the party defending the action to show that this factor was not determinative.?? Id. at 1212.?Snyder v. Louisiana, 128 S. Ct. 1203 (2008).