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Opinion of the Court

of these questions, or a variation: (1) “Do you know of any reason why you cannot be fair and impartial?”, id., at 33; see id., at 41, 49, 64, 68, 75, 88, 99; (2) “Do you feel you can give both sides a fair trial?", id., at 70; see id., at 35, 38, 43, 49, 56, 61, 65, 77, 100, 110. When empaneled, each member of the jury further swore an oath to "well and truly try the issues joined herein and true deliverance make between the People of the State of Illinois and the defendant at the bar and a true verdict render according to the law and the evidence.” 1 Tr. 601-602; see id., at 264, 370, 429, 507, 544, 575-576.

On appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed petitioner's conviction and death sentence, rejecting petitioner's claim that, pursuant to Ross v. Oklahoma, 487 U. S. 81 (1988), voir dire must include the “life qualifying” or "reverse-Witherspoon" question upon request. The Illinois Supreme Court concluded that nothing requires a trial court to question potential jurors so as to identify and exclude any who would vote for the death penalty in every case after conviction for a capital offense. 142 Ill. 2d 410, 470, 568 N. E. 2d 755, 778 (1991). That court also found no violation

“Q Do you know any reason why you cannot give this defendant a fair trial?

“A I would have no problem during the trial. If it came—I had a friend's parents murdered twelve years ago before capital punishment. I would give a fair trial. If he is found guilty, I would want him hung.

“Q You couldn't be fair and impartial throughout the proceedings?
"A No.
“Q You are excused.” App. 72–73.

3 The Illinois Supreme Court has subsequently emphasized that decision in this case was not meant “to imply that the ‘reverse-Witherspoon' question is inappropriate. Indeed, given the type of scrutiny capital cases receive on review, one would think trial courts would go out of their way to afford a defendant every possible safeguard. The reverseWitherspoon' question may not be the only means of ensuring defendant an impartial jury, but it is certainly the most direct. The best way to ensure that a prospective juror would not automatically vote for the death penalty is to ask.” People v. Jackson, 145 Ill. 2d 43, 110, 582 N. E. 2d

Opinion of the Court

of Ross, concluding instead that petitioner's jury "was selected from a fair cross-section of the community, each juror swore to uphold the law regardless of his or her personal feelings, and no juror expressed any views that would call his or her impartiality into question.” 142 Ill. 2d, at 470, 568 N. E. 2d, at 778.

We granted certiorari because of the considerable disagreement among state courts of last resort on the question at issue in this case.4 502 U. S. 905 (1991). We now reverse the judgment of the Illinois Supreme Court.

II We have emphasized previously that there is not "any one right way for a State to set up its capital sentencing

125, 156 (1991). See also State v. Atkins, 303 S. C. 214, 222-223, 399 S. E. 2d 760, 765 (1990).

4 Delaware and South Carolina agree with Illinois that the “reverseWitherspoon” inquiry is unnecessary so long as, by questions and oath, each juror swears to be fair and impartial and to follow the law. See Riley v. State, 585 A. 2d 719, 725–726 (Del. 1990), cert. denied, 501 U. S. 1223 (1991); State v. Hyman, 276 S. C. 559, 563, 281 S. E. 2d 209, 211-212 (1981), cert. denied, 458 U. S. 1122 (1982). Missouri appears to be of this view as well. State v. McMillin, 783 S. W. 2d 82, 94 (Mo.), cert. denied, 498 U. S. 881 (1990). California, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Utah, and Virginia disagree, see People v. Bittaker, 48 Cal. 3d 1046, 1083-1084, 774 P. 2d 659, 679 (1989); Skipper v. State, 257 Ga. 802, 806-807, 364 S. E. 2d 835, 839 (1988); State v. Henry, 196 La. 217, 232–234, 198 So. 910, 914-916 (1940); State v. Williams, 113 N. J. 393, 415–417, 550 A. 2d 1172, 1182-1184 (1988); State v. Rogers, 316 N. C. 203, 216–218, 341 S. E. 2d 713, 722 (1986); State v. Norton, 675 P. 2d 577, 588-589 (Utah 1983), cert. denied, 466 U. S. 942 (1984); Patterson v. Commonwealth, 222 Va. 653, 657–660, 283 S. E. 2d 212, 214-216 (1981), as apparently do Arkansas, Florida, and Kentucky, see Pickens v. State, 292 Ark. 362, 366–367, 730 S. W. 2d 230, 233-234, cert. denied, 484 U. S. 917 (1987); Gore v. State, 475 So. 2d 1205, 1206–1208 (Fla. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U. S. 1031 (1986); Morris v. Commonwealth, 766 S. W. 2d 58, 60 (Ky. 1989). Lower courts in Alabama also follow this latter view. See Bracewell v. State, 506 So. 2d 354, 358 (Ala. Crim. App. 1986); cf. Henderson v. State, 583 So. 2d 276, 283–284 (Ala. Crim. App. 1990) (no “plain error" in trial court's failure sua sponte to “life qualify” the prospective jurors), aff'd, 583 So. 2d 305 (1991).

Opinion of the Court

scheme,” Spaziano v. Florida, 468 U. S. 447, 464 (1984) (citations omitted), and that no State is constitutionally required by the Sixth Amendment or otherwise to provide for jury determination of whether the death penalty shall be imposed on a capital defendant, ibid. Illinois has chosen, however, to delegate to the jury this task in the penalty phase of capital trials in addition to its duty to determine guilt or innocence of the underlying crime. The issue, therefore, is whether petitioner is entitled to relief under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. We conclude that he is, and in the course of doing so we deal with four issues: whether a jury provided to a capital defendant at the sentencing phase must be impartial; whether such defendant is entitled to challenge for cause and have removed on the ground of bias a prospective juror who will automatically vote for the death penalty irrespective of the facts or the trial court's instructions of law; whether on voir dire the court must, on defendant's request, inquire into the prospective jurors' views on capital punishment; and whether the voir dire in this case was constitutionally sufficient.

A Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U. S. 145 (1968), held that the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed a right of jury trial in all state criminal cases which, were they tried in a federal court, would come within the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of trial by jury. Prior to this decision applying the Sixth Amendment's jury trial provision to the States, we recognized in Irvin v. Dowd, 366 U. S. 717 (1961), and in Turner v. Louisiana, 379 U. S. 466 (1965), that the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause itself independently required the impartiality of any jury empaneled to try a cause:

“Although this Court has said that the Fourteenth Amendment does not demand the use of jury trials in a State's criminal procedure, Fay v. New York, 332 U. S. 261 [(1947)]; Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U. S. 319 [(1937)],

Opinion of the Court

every State has constitutionally provided trial by jury. See Columbia University Legislative Drafting Research Fund, Index Digest of State Constitutions, 578–579 (1959). In essence, the right to jury trial guarantees to the criminally accused a fair trial by a panel of impartial, ‘indifferent jurors. The failure to accord an accused a fair hearing violates even the minimal standards of due process. In re Oliver, 333 U. S. 257 [(1948)]; Tumey v. Ohio, 273 U. S. 510 [(1927)]. 'A fair trial in a fair tribunal is a basic requirement of due process. In re Murchison, 349 U. S. 133, 136 [(1955)]. In the ultimate analysis, only the jury can strip a man of his liberty or his life. In the language of Lord Coke, a juror must be as 'indifferent as he stands unsworne.' Co. Litt. 155b. His verdict must be based upon the evidence developed at the trial. Cf. Thompson v. City of Louisville, 362 U. S. 199 [(1960)]. This is true, regardless of the heinousness of the crime charged, the apparent guilt of the offender or the station in life which he occupies. It was so written into our law as early as 1807 by Chief Justice Marshall in 1 Burr's Trial 416 (1807). "The theory of the law is that a juror who has formed an opinion cannot be impartial.' Reynolds v. United States, 98 U. S. 145, 155 [(1879)].” Irvin v. Dowd, supra, at 721-722 (footnote omitted).

In Turner v. Louisiana, we relied on this passage to delineate “the nature of the jury trial which the Fourteenth Amendment commands when trial by jury is what the State has purported to accord.” 379 U. S., at 471. In short, as reflected in the passage above, due process alone has long demanded that, if a jury is to be provided the defendant, regardless of whether the Sixth Amendment requires it, the jury must stand impartial and indifferent to the extent commanded by the Sixth Amendment. Id., at 472, and n. 10; cf. Groppi v. Wisconsin, 400 U. S. 505, 508–511 (1971).

Opinion of the Court

Thus it is that our decisions dealing with capital sentencing juries and presenting issues most analogous to that which we decide here today, e.g., Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U. S., at 518; Adams v. Texas, 448 U. S. 38, 40 (1980); Wainwright v. Witt, 469 U. S. 412, 423 (1985); Ross v. Oklahoma, 487 U. S., at 85, have relied on the strictures dictated by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to ensure the impartiality of any jury that will undertake capital sentencing. See also Turner v. Murray, 476 U. S. 28, 36, and n. 9 (1986) (plurality opinion).

B Witt held that “the proper standard for determining when a prospective juror may be excluded for cause because of his or her views on capital punishment... is whether the juror's views would 'prevent or substantially impair the performance of his duties as a juror in accordance with his instructions and his oath.”” 469 U. S., at 424 (quoting Adams v. Texas, supra, at 45). Under this standard, it is clear from Witt and Adams, the progeny of Witherspoon, that a juror who in no case would vote for capital punishment, regardless of his or her instructions, is not an impartial juror and must be removed for cause.

Thereafter, in Ross v. Oklahoma, supra, a state trial court refused to remove for cause a juror who declared he would vote to impose death automatically if the jury found the defendant guilty. That juror, however, was removed by the defendant's use of a peremptory challenge, and for that reason the death sentence could be affirmed. But in the course of reaching this result, we announced our considered view that because the Constitution guarantees a defendant on trial for his life the right to an impartial jury, 487 U. S., at 85, the trial court's failure to remove the juror for cause was constitutional error under the standard enunciated in Witt. We emphasized that “[h]ad [this juror] sat on the jury that ultimately sentenced petitioner to death, and had petitioner properly preserved his right to challenge the trial court's

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