Ramos v. Louisiana
Do individuals accused of a crime need to be convicted by a unanimous jury in cases at the state level? The Supreme Court is currently considering this question in a case called Ramos v. Louisiana. Evangelisto Ramos was accused of second-degree murder by the state of Louisiana and convicted by a 10-2 jury vote. Currently, federal law requires that juries be unanimous in order to convict an individual in federal cases. Previously, in the case of Apodaca v. Oregon, the Court ruled that the Sixth Amendment requires a jury vote be unanimous in order to convict an individual in federal cases. Now, the Court is considering if the Sixth Amendment ought to be incorporated, or applied at the state level, as well.
- Students will explore the meaning of the Sixth Amendment
- Students will understand the meaning and significance of incorporation
- Students will form their own opinion concerning the Ramos v. Louisiana case
Handout A: Bill of Rights Handout B: What is Incorporation?
Warm-up Activity (15 minutes)
Directions: Have students read the Sixth Amendment from Handout A and answer the following questions.
- Rewrite the Sixth Amendment in your own words.
- The courts have previously ruled that the requirement of an “impartial jury” means that the decisions of federal juries must be unanimous. Do you agree with this interpretation? Why or why not?
Activity (20 minutes)
Directions: Have students read Handout B and use the following questions to guide a classroom discussion on the topic of incorporation and its relation to the Ramos v. Louisiana case.
- In your own words, what does incorporation mean?
- What are some benefits and drawbacks of incorporating rights at the state level?
- Should the right to a unanimous jury be incorporated at the state level? Why or why not?