When Is Religious Discrimination Okay?

Cast of charactersThis is Keith Weissman, Steve Rosen and Steve's lawyer Abbe Lowell (who some of you long-time scandal-watchers may remember at Gary Condit's lawyer from back in the day). Keith and Steve used to work for the American Israeli Political Action Committee, until they were caught receiving classified intelligence on Iran from Pentagon analyst Lawrence Franklin, who has since pleaded guilty. Steve and Keith are about to be tried in federal court on espionage charges for giving the classified Iran info to journalists and Israeli officials. However, the real question is whether the prosecution will be able to exclude Jewish jurors (or jurors with Jewish-sounding names) and the defense will be able to exclude Muslim-y jurors.

You see, while you can't boot people off of juries for their sex or ethnicity, there's no clear case law on religious (or apparent religious) affiliation. Rosen's lawyer actually initiated the kerfluffle when he submitted a brief asking the judge to determine potential jurors' religions, stating "a number of people when confronted with this case will have a pre-judged idea about Aipac, its relationship with Israel, and the allegations in this case that Jewish-Americans shared national defense information with Israeli officials." Actually, I think I already learned that once myself.

While it's true that some people in Washington probably do have strong opinions on these subjects, isn't the whole point of jury selection to find people that don't? And is a potential juror's religious affiliation a determinant of that? For me, the thought that religion would be allowed to be a determinant is probably a bad thing for religious-types. But, what do you think? Is this information relevant to jury selection?

Secrets Case Eyes Jurors' Religion [Ny Sun]

Condit lawyer speaks from experience [CourtTV]

Pentagon Analyst Gets 12 Years for Disclosing Data [NY Times]


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