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Jurors in Missouri dismissed based on their Christian beliefs

During the jury selection for the trial Missouri Department of Corrections versus Jean Finney -the lawyer of a lesbian woman who claimed she had been harassed at work based on her sexuality -, asked potential jurors if they believe homosexuality is a sin. The judge then dismissed the jurors who said yes, arguing that their religious beliefs would affect their beliefs about Finney’s case.

The trial judge agreed to dismiss the jurors, although she noted that they had said their beliefs about sexuality would not interfere with their work. Finney’s lawyer won the case, but Missouri state officials appealed the decision, arguing that it was wrong to eliminate Christian jurors based on their beliefs.

After losing at the appeal level, state officials asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the dismissals and determine whether religious discrimination had taken place.

Justice Samuel Alito of the Supreme Court released a statement: “In this case, the court below reasoned that a person who still holds traditional religious views on questions of sexual morality is presumptively unfit to serve on a jury in a case involving a party who is a lesbian. That holding exemplifies the danger that I anticipated in Obergefell v. Hodges, namely, that Americans who do not hide their adherence to traditional religious beliefs about homosexual conduct will be ‘labelled as bigots and treated as such’ by the government.

Christian jurors responded to the notion. A pastor’s wife said: “Homosexuality, according to the Bible, is a sin. So is gossiping, so is lying. None of us can be perfect. And so, I’m here because it’s an honour to sit in here and to perhaps be a part of, you know, a civic duty.”

Another juror stated: “Homosexuality is a sin because it’s in the Bible. But every one of us here sins; it’s just part of our nature. And it’s something we struggle with, hopefully, throughout our life. And the fact that it is a sin has really nothing to do with— in a negative way with whatever this case is going to be about.”

The plaintiff’s barrister expressed concerns about the possibility of religious discrimination in the court. Justice Alito agreed: “I see no basis for dismissing a juror for a cause based on religious beliefs.” He finally voted against trying the case due to a ramification, which ended in labelling it as an objection instead of dismissal on a religious basis.  


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