Monday, June 16, 2014

Minor v. Happersett case brief summary

Minor v. Happersett case brief summary 
88 U.S. 162 (1874)

A dispute arose regarding whether a state could deny women the right to vote.

Case Facts
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 Fourteenth Amendment.

Legal Issue
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 and immunities.


Waite, C.J. Historical evidence within and outside the Constitution strongly suggests 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 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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