Boyden Gray & Associates filed an amicus brief today in the Supreme Court on behalf of the D.C. Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in favor of the petitioner in Orlando Carter v. District of Columbia, No. 21-340. The brief urges the Court to grant certiorari and hold that the First Amendment protects religious nonprofits’ right to hire those who share their faith. The brief is available here.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to an impartial jury in criminal trials—a right that Alexander Hamilton called the “palladium of free  government.” In Groppi v. Wisconsin (1971), the Supreme Court held that, in some cases, “only a change of venue [is] constitutionally sufficient to assure … [an] impartial jury.” Orlando Carter was denied this possibility by the D.C. Court of
Appeals.  D.C. Superior Court held that criminal defendants in the District—unlike criminal defendants in literally every other trial court in the country—are categorically barred from even seeking a change of venue, no matter the level of pre-trial publicity. In support of this proposition, the Court of Appeals pointed to the District’s small size. But this is irrelevant.

This Court has unequivocally stated that constitutional rights cannot “differ from locality to locality.” McDonald v. City of Chicago, Ill., 561 U.S. 742, 783 (2010). The “provisions of the Bill of Rights apply with full force to both the Federal Government and the States.” Id. at 750. And even more specifically, this Court has held for over 130 years that criminal defendants in the District of Columbia are entitled to the same Sixth Amendment protections as criminal defendants elsewhere in the country. Callan v. Wilson, 127 U.S. 540, 549–50 (1888).

Boyden Gray & Associates is a boutique litigation and public policy firm, continuing C. Boyden Gray’s decades of service as counselor to presidents, business leaders, legislators, and regulators on matters of constitutional law, regulatory policy, and international affairs.

D.C. Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (DCACDL) is an organization formed of criminal defense lawyers in the District of Columbia, dedicated to providing a unified voice on matters of criminal defense law in the District.