On October 19, 1961, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Hoyt v. Florida. The case arose after an all-male jury convicted Gwendolyn Hoyt of killing her husband. Hoyt argued the lack of women on her jury left her at a disadvantage. She felt “women jurors would have been more understanding or compassionate than men in assessing the quality of [her] act and her defense of ‘temporary insanity.'” She asserted that Florida’s law–excluding women from jury service unless they proactively registered with the clerk of the court– was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court disagreed.
Justice Harlan explained the Constitution “does not entitle one accused of [a] crime to a jury tailored to the circumstances of the particular case, whether relating to the sex or other condition of the defendant, or to the nature of the charges to be tried.” The Court also found that it was reasonable to exempt women from jury service–because unlike men, “they were responsible for home and family life.” Hoyt’s conviction was affirmed. You can listen to the attorneys argue this case before the Supreme Court at https://goo.gl/cXhB1H. Notably, the Court overruled the Hoyt decision in Taylor v. Louisiana. Learn more at https://goo.gl/uxYNIx.