Duncan v. Louisiana
Significance: With this decision, the Supreme Court applied the Sixth Amendment's right to jury trial to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment under the incorporation doctrine.
Justice Byron R. White, writing for a 7-2 majority, held that a jury trial is mandatory in a state court if the same offense would be entitled to a jury trial in federal court. Through this ruling, he applied a portion of the Sixth Amendment through incorporation under the Fourteenth Amendment. The defendant had been convicted of a misdemeanor without benefit of a jury because Louisiana's laws did not mandate jury trials for minor offenses. The Supreme Court held that a portion of the Bill of Rights must be considered part of due process if it is a part of the Anglo-American system of “ordered liberty,” and juries were a part of that. This strengthened the theory of incorporation, which held that due process must include any feature without which one could not imagine civilized society existing. Justices John M. Harlan II and Potter Stewart dissented because they feared a further erosion of states’ rights.