A dispute arose regarding whether a state could
deny women the right to vote.
Virginia Minor attempted to register to vote in
Missouri. After the state turned her away, she
sued on the ground that it had violated the
Is the right to vote one of the privileges and immunities guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment?
The right to vote is not one of those privileges
Waite, C.J. Historical evidence within and outside the Constitution strongly suggest that the
right to vote is not coextensive with citizenship.
When the Constitution was adopted, most
states had limited, either expressly or implicitly, suffrage to male citizens. If the Framers
had intended to change this state of affairs,
they almost certainly would have done so using
a clause in the Constitution. The lack of such a
clause indicates that they intended to leave voting rights as they had existed. Furthermore,
understanding the right to vote as a component
of citizenship would lead to an absurd consequences. Under this view, the Privileges and
Immunities Clause of Article IV would necessarily mean that each state is bound to allow a
citizen of any other state to vote.
The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments explicitly
prohibit disenfranchisement on the basis of race
or previous condition of servitude, but they
glaringly omit any mention of disenfranchisement based on adult relations. When the states were admitted to the Union, no objection was ever
made on grounds that they denied women the
right to vote; such was the case even in the
readmission of the Southern states following
the Civil War.
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