P, a black man, was convicted of two counts of armed robbery and one count of murder. P's convictions arose out of the robbery of a furniture store and the killing of a white police officer during the course of the robbery. P and three accomplices planned and carried out the robbery. All four were armed. P entered the front of the store while the other three entered the rear. P secured the front of the store by rounding up the customers and forcing them to lie face down on the floor. The other three rounded up the employees in the rear and tied them up with tape. The manager was forced at gunpoint to turn over the store receipts, his watch, and $6. During the course of the robbery, a police officer, answering a silent alarm, entered the store through the front door. Two shots were fired. Both struck the officer. One hit him in the face and killed him. P was sentenced to death in the state of Georgia. P was black. The conviction was affirmed. P then petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus, presenting a statistical study showing that blacks were more likely to be sentenced to death. The raw numbers indicate that defendants charged with killing white persons received the death penalty in 11% of the cases, but defendants charged with killing blacks received the death penalty in only 1% of the cases. The study found that prosecutors sought the death penalty in 70% of the cases involving black defendants and white victims; 32% of the cases involving white defendants and white victims; 15% of the cases involving black defendants and black victims; and 19% of the cases involving white defendants and black victims. Defendants charged with killing white victims were 4.3 times as likely to receive a death sentence as defendants charged with killing blacks. Black defendants were 1.1 times as likely to receive a death sentence as other defendants. P claimed that the sentencing process was racially motivated and that since the death statute was administered in a discriminatory way, it was an equal protection violation. The district court dismissed P's petition. The court of appeals affirmed, rejecting the statistical data as irrelevant to the disposition. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.