In April, the Supreme Court ruled in Ramos v. Louisiana that the Sixth Amendment establishes a right to a unanimous jury that applies in both federal and state courts. On Wednesday in Edwards v. Vannoy, the justices will hear argument on whether inmates whose convictions became final before that decision can now take advantage of it. Although only two states, Louisiana and Oregon, have allowed non-unanimous jury verdicts in recent years, those states say that a ruling for the inmates could “seriously strain” their systems by reopening many years’ worth of convictions.
The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right to an “impartial jury.” When it and the other amendments in the Bill of Rights were originally enacted, they were interpreted as applying only to the federal government – not to the states. Since then, however, the Supreme Court has ruled that some, and eventually most, of the