Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed legislation that would have allowed legal immigrants to serve on juries, saying in a veto message Monday that the responsibility should be reserved for U.S. citizens.
This has been a momentous legislative session for immigrant advocates, who have seen Brown sign measures that allow undocumented immigrants to practice law, shield immigrants from labor discrimination, allow driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants and bar local law enforcement from detaining immigrants who have committed nonserious crimes.
But Brown drew the line at allowing non-citizens to preside over the legal fate of their peers, saying in a veto message that "jury service, like voting, is a quintessential prerogative and responsibility of citizenship."
"This bill would permit lawful residents who are not citizens to serve on a jury," Brown wrote in his message. "I don't think that's right."
Supporters of the legislation, Assembly Bill 1401, argued that it would relieve the strain on courts that have difficulty filling juries. They noted that the notion of who qualifies for jury service has evolved over time, since African Americans and women were once excluded, and suggested that the proposal would help legal permanent residents integrate into American society.