Calif. Governor Vetoes Bill Allowing Noncitizens on Juries

Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday vetoed legislation that would have made California the first state in the nation to allow legal immigrants who are not citizens to serve on juries.
October 8, 2013

Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday vetoed legislation that would have made California the first state in the nation to allow legal immigrants who are not citizens to serve on juries.

The governor's action runs counter to his recent approval of bills expanding the rights of immigrants, including legislation allowing those in the country illegally to apply for driver's licenses and practice law. Brown said serving on a jury, however, was a high civic duty that should be exclusive to citizens.

"Jury service, like voting, is quintessentially a prerogative and responsibility of citizenship," Brown wrote in his veto message. "This bill would permit lawful permanent residents who are not citizens to serve on a jury. I don't think that's right."

In all, Brown signed 20 bills and vetoed four Monday, with the legislation on immigrant jurors being the most controversial.

The jury bill would have applied to legal permanent residents, those who are issued official cards by the U.S. government often called green cards.

Democratic lawmakers who supported the legislation said it would diversify the jury pool and allow noncitizens facing trial to have a jury that includes their peers.

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