Open main menu

Oregon v. Mitchell/Concurrence-dissent Harlan

< Oregon v. Mitchell
Court Documents
Case Syllabus
Opinion of the Court
Separate Opinion

MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

From the standpoint of this Court's decisions during an era of judicial constitutional revision in the field of the suffrage, ushered in eight years ago by Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962), I would find it difficult not to sustain all three aspects of the Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1970, Pub.L. 91-285, 84 Stat. 314, here challenged. From the standpoint of the bedrock of the constitutional structure of this Nation, these cases bring us to a crossroad that is marked with a formidable "Stop" sign. That sign compels us to pause before we allow those decisions to carry us to the point of sanctioning Congress' decision to alter state-determined voter qualifications by simple legislation, and to consider whether sound doctrine does not, in truth, require us to hold that one or more of the changes which Congress has thus sought to make can be accomplished only by constitutional amendment.

The four cases require determination of the validity of the Voting Rights Act Amendments in three respects. In Nos. 43, Orig., and 44, Orig., Oregon and Texas have sought to enjoin the enforcement of § 302 of the Act as applied to lower the voting age in those States from 21 to 18. [1] [p153]

In Nos. 46, Orig., and 47, Orig., the United States seeks a declaration of the validity of the Act and an injunction requiring Arizona and Idaho to conform their laws to it. The Act would lower the voting age in each State from 21 to 18. It would suspend until August 6, 1975, the Arizona literacy test, which requires that applicants for registration be able to read the United States Constitution in English and write their names. It would require Idaho to make several changes in its laws governing residency, registration, and absentee voting in presidential elections. Among the more substantial changes, Idaho's present 60-day state residency requirement will, in effect, be lowered to 30 days; its 30-day county residency requirement for intrastate migrants will be abolished; Idaho will have to permit voting by citizens of other States formerly domiciled in Idaho who emigrated too recently to register in their new homes; and it must permit absentee registration and voting by persons who have lived in Idaho for less than six months. The relevant provisions of the Act and of the constitutions and laws of the four States are set out in an Appendix to this opinion.

Each of the States contests the power of Congress to enact the provisions of the Act involved in its suit. [2] The Government places primary reliance on the power of Congress under § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to enforce the provisions of that Amendment by appropriate [p154] legislation. For reasons to follow, I am of the opinion that the Fourteenth Amendment was never intended to restrict the authority of the States to allocate their political power as they see fit, and therefore that it does not authorize Congress to set voter qualifications, in either state or federal elections. I find no other source of congressional power to lower the voting age as fixed by state laws, or to alter state laws on residency, registration, and absentee voting, with respect to either state or federal elections. The suspension of Arizona's literacy requirement, however, can be deemed an appropriate means of enforcing the Fifteenth Amendment, and I would sustain it on that basis.



It is fitting to begin with a quotation from one of the leading members of the 39th Congress, which proposed the Fourteenth Amendment to the States in 1866:

Every Constitution embodies the principles of its framers. It is a transcript of their minds. If its meaning in any place is open to doubt, or if words are used which seem to have no fixed signification, we cannot err if we turn to the framers; and their authority increases in proportion to the evidence which they have left on the question.

Cong.Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., 677 (1866) (Sen. Sumner). Believing this view to be undoubtedly sound, I turn to the circumstances in which the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted for enlightenment on the intended reach of its provisions. This, for me, necessary undertaking has unavoidably led to an opinion of more than ordinary length. Except for those who are willing to close their eyes to constitutional history in making constitutional interpretations or who read such history with a preconceived determination to attain a particular constitutional [p155] goal, I think that the history of the Fourteenth Amendment makes it clear beyond any reasonable doubt that no part of the legislation now under review can be upheld as a legitimate exercise of congressional power under that Amendment.

I AEdit


The point of departure for considering the purpose and effect of the Fourteenth Amendment with respect to the suffrage should be, I think, the preexisting provisions of the Constitution. Article I, § 2, provided that, in determining the number of Representatives to which a State was entitled, only three-fifths of the slave population should be counted. [4] The section also provided that the qualifications of voters for such Representatives should be the same as those established by the States for electors of the most numerous branch of their respective legislatures. Article I, § 4, provided that, subject to congressional veto, the States might prescribe the times, places, and manner of holding elections for Representatives. Article II, § 1, provided that the States might direct the manner of choosing electors for President and Vice President, except that Congress might fix a uniform time for the choice. [5] Nothing in the original [p156] Constitution controlled the way States might allocate their political power except for the guarantee of a Republican Form of Government, which appears in Art. IV, § 4. [6] No relevant changes in the constitutional structure were made until after the Civil War.

At the close of that war, there were some four million freed slaves in the South, none of whom was permitted to vote. The white population of the Confederacy had been overwhelmingly sympathetic with the rebellion. Since there was only a comparative handful of persons in these States who were neither former slaves nor Confederate sympathizers, the place where the political power should be lodged was a most vexing question. In a series of proclamations in the summer of 1865, President Andrew Johnson had laid the groundwork for the States to be controlled by the white populations which had held power before the war, eliminating only the leading rebels and those unwilling to sign a loyalty oath. [7] The Radicals, on the other hand, were ardently in favor of Negro suffrage as essential to prevent resurgent rebellion, requisite to protect the freedmen, and necessary to ensure continued Radical control of the government. This ardor cooled as it ran into northern racial prejudice. At that time, only six States — Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York — permitted Negroes to vote, and New York imposed special property and residency requirements on Negro voters. [8] In referenda late that year, enfranchising proposals [p157] were roundly beaten in Connecticut, Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Territory of Colorado, and the District of Columbia. Gillette, supra, n. 3, at 25-26. Such popular rebuffs led the Radicals to pull in their horns and hope for a protracted process of reconstruction during which the North could be educated to the advisability of Negro suffrage, at least for the South. In the meantime, of course, it would be essential to bar southern representation in Congress lest a combination of southerners and Democrats obtain control of the government and frustrate Radical goals.

The problem of congressional representation was acute. With the freeing of the slaves, the Three-Fifths Compromise ceased to have any effect. While predictions of the precise effect of the change varied with the person doing the calculating, the consensus was that the South would be entitled to at least 15 new members of Congress, and, of course, a like number of new presidential electors. The Radicals had other rallying cries which they kept before the public in the summer of 1865, but one author gives this description of the mood as Congress convened: [9]

Of all the movements influencing the Fourteenth Amendment which developed prior to the first session of the Thirty-ninth Congress, that for Negro suffrage was the most outstanding. The volume of private and public comment indicates that it was viewed as an issue of prime importance. The cry for a changed basis of representation was, in reality, subsidiary to this, and was meant by Radicals to secure in another way what Negro suffrage might accomplish for them: removal of the danger of Democratic dominance as a consequence of Southern restoration. The danger of possible repudiation of the national obligations, and assumption of the rebel [p158] debt, was invariably presented to show the need for Negro suffrage or a new basis of representation. Sentiment for disqualification of ex-Confederates, though a natural growth, well suited such purposes. The movement to guarantee civil rights, sponsored originally by the more conservative Republicans, received emphasis from Radicals only when state elections indicated that suffrage would not serve as a party platform.

When Congress met, the Radicals, led by Thaddeus Stevens, were successful in obtaining agreement for a Joint Committee on Reconstruction, composed of 15 members, to

inquire into the condition of the States which formed the so-called confederate States of America, and report whether they, or any of them, are entitled to be represented in either House of Congress. . . .

Cong.Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., 30, 46 (1865) (hereafter Globe).

All papers relating to representation of the Southern States were to be referred to the Committee of Fifteen without debate. The result, which many had not foreseen, was to assert congressional control over Reconstruction and at the same time to put the congressional power in the hands of a largely Radical secret committee.

The Joint Committee began work with the beginning of 1866, and in due course reported a joint resolution, H.R. 51, to amend the Constitution. The proposal would have based representation and direct taxes on population, with a proviso that

whenever the elective franchise shall be denied or abridged in any State on account of race or color, all persons of such race or color shall be excluded from the basis of representation.

Globe 351. The result, if the Southern States did not provide for Negro suffrage, would be a decrease in southern representation [p159] in Congress and the electoral college by some 24 seats from their pre-war position instead of an increase of 15. The House, although somewhat balky, approved the measure after lengthy debate. Globe 538. The Senate proved more intractable. An odd combination of Democrats, moderate Republicans, and extreme Radicals combined to defeat the measure, with the Radicals basing their opposition largely on the fear that the proviso would be read to authorize racial voter qualifications, and thus prevent Congress from enfranchising the freedmen under powers assertedly granted by other clauses of the Constitution. See, e.g., Globe 67687 (Sen. Sumner).

At about this same time the Civil Rights Bill and the Second Freedmen's Bureau Bill were being debated. Both bills provided a list of rights secured, not including voting. [10] Senator Trumbull, who reported the Civil Rights Bill on behalf of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stated: "I do not want to bring up the question of negro suffrage in the bill." Globe 606. His House counterpart exhibited the same reluctance. Globe 1162 (Cong. Wilson of Iowa). Despite considerable uncertainty as to the constitutionality of the measures, both ultimately passed. In the midst of the Senate debates on the basis of representation, President Johnson vetoed the Freedmen's Bureau Bill, primarily on constitutional grounds. This veto, which was narrowly sustained, was followed shortly by the President's bitter attack on Radical Reconstruction in his Washington's Birthday speech. These two actions, which were followed a month later by the veto of the Civil Rights Bill, removed any lingering hopes among the Radicals that Johnson would support them in a thoroughgoing plan of reconstruction. By the same token, they increased the Radicals' need for an [p160] articulated plan of their own to be put before the country in the upcoming elections as an alternative to the course the President was taking.

The second major product of the Reconstruction Committee, before the resolution which became the Fourteenth Amendment, was a proposal to add an equal rights provision to the Constitution. This measure, H.R. 63, which foreshadowed § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, read as follows:

The Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper to secure to the citizens of each State all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States, and to all persons in the several States equal protection in the rights of life, liberty, and property.

Globe 1034.

It was reported by Congressman Bingham of Ohio, who later opposed the Civil Rights Bill because he believed it unconstitutional. Globe 1292-1293. The amendment immediately ran into serious opposition in the House, and the subject was dropped. [11]

Such was the background of the Fourteenth Amendment. Congress, at loggerheads with the President over Reconstruction, had not come up with a plan of its own after six months of deliberations; both friends and foes prodded it to develop an alternative. The Reconstruction Committee had been unable to produce anything which could even get through Congress, much less obtain the adherence of three-fourths of the States. The Radicals, committed to Negro suffrage, were confronted with widespread public opposition to that goal and the necessity for a reconstruction plan that could do service as a party platform in the elections that fall. The language [p161] of the Fourteenth Amendment must be read with awareness that it was designed in response to this situation.

I BEdit

Sections 1 and 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment as originally reported read as follows: [12]

SEC. 1. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
SEC. 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But whenever, [p162] in any State, the elective franchise shall be denied to any portion of its male citizens not less than twenty-one years of age, or in any way abridged except for participation in rebellion or other crime, the basis of representation in such State shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens not less than twenty-one years of age.

Globe 2286.

In the historical context, no one could have understood this language as anything other than an abandonment of the principle of Negro suffrage, for which the Radicals had been so eager. By the same token, the language could hardly have been understood as affecting the provisions of the Constitution placing voting qualifications in the hands of the States. Section 1 must have been seen as little more than a constitutionalization of the 1866 Civil Rights Act, concededly one of the primary goals of that portion of the Amendment. [13]

While these conclusions may, I think, be confidently asserted, it is not so easy to explain just how contemporary observers would have construed the three clauses of § 1 to reach this result. [14] No doubt in the case of [p163] many congressmen it simply never occurred to them that the States' longstanding plenary control over voter qualifications would be affected without explicit language to that effect. And since no speaker during the debates on the Fourteenth Amendment pursued the contention that § 1 would be construed to include the franchise, those who took the opposite view rarely explained how they arrived at their conclusions.

In attempting to unravel what was seldom articulated, the appropriate starting point is the fact that the framers of the Amendment expected the most significant portion of § 1 to be the clause prohibiting state laws "which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." These privileges were no doubt understood to include the ones set out in the first section of the Civil Rights Act. To be prohibited by law from enjoying these rights would hardly be consistent with full membership in a civil society.

The same is not necessarily true with respect to prohibitions on participation in the political process. Many members of Congress accepted the jurisprudence of the day, in which the rights of man fell into three categories: natural, civil, and political. The privileges of citizens, being "civil" rights, were distinct from the rights arising from governmental organization, which were political in character. [15] Others no doubt relied on [p164] the experience under the similar language of Art. IV, § 2, which had never been held to guarantee the right to vote. The remarks of Senator Howard of Michigan, who, as spokesman for the Joint Committee, explained in greater detail than most why the Amendment did not reach the suffrage, contain something of each view. See Globe 2766, quoted infra at 187; nn. 56 and 57, infra; cf. Blake v. McClung, 172 U.S. 239, 256 (1898) (dictum).

Since the Privileges and Immunities Clause was expected to be the primary source of substantive protection, the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses were relegated to a secondary role, as the debates and other contemporary materials make clear. [16] Those clauses, which appear on their face to correspond with the latter portion of § 1 of the Civil Rights Act, see n. 13, supra, and to be primarily concerned with person and property, would not have been expected to enfranchise the freedmen if the Privileges and Immunities Clause did not.

Other members of Congress no doubt saw § 2 of the proposed Amendment as the Committee's resolution of the related problems of suffrage and representation. Since that section did not provide for enfranchisement, but simply reduced representation for disfranchisement, any doubts about the effect of the broad language of § 1 were removed. Congressman Bingham, who was primarily responsible for the language of § 1, [p165] stated this view. Globe 2542, quoted infra at 185. Finally, characterization of the Amendment by such figures as Stevens and Bingham in the House and Howard in the Senate, not contested by the Democrats except in passing remarks, was no doubt simply accepted by many members of Congress; they, repeating it, gave further force to the interpretation, with the result that, as will appear below, not one speaker in the debates on the Fourteenth Amendment unambiguously stated that it would affect state voter qualifications, and only three, all opponents of the measure, can fairly be characterized as raising the possibility. [17] Further evidence of this original understanding can be found in later events.

The 39th Congress, which proposed the Fourteenth Amendment, also enacted the first Reconstruction Act, c. 153, 14 Stat. 428 (1867). This Act required, as a condition precedent to readmission of the Southern States, that they adopt constitutions providing that the elective franchise should be enjoyed by all male citizens over the age of 21 who had been residents for more than one year and were not disfranchised for treason or common law felony; even so, no State would be readmitted until a legislature elected under the new Constitution had ratified the proposed Fourteenth Amendment and that Amendment had become part of the Constitution.

The next development came when the ratification drive in the North stalled. After a year had passed during which only one Northern State had ratified the proposed Fourteenth Amendment, Arkansas was readmitted to the Union by the Act of June 22, 1868, 15 [p166] Stat. 72. This readmission was based on the "fundamental condition" that the state constitution should not be amended to restrict the franchise, except with reference to residency requirements. Three days later, the Act of June 25, 1868, 15 Stat. 73, held out a promise of similar treatment to North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida if they would ratify the Fourteenth Amendment. By happy coincidence, the assent of those six States was just sufficient to complete the ratification process. It can hardly be suggested, therefore, that the "fundamental condition" was exacted from them as a measure of caution lest the Fourteenth Amendment fail of ratification.

The 40th Congress, not content with enfranchisement in the South, proposed the Fifteenth Amendment to extend the suffrage to northern Negroes. See Gillette, supra, n. 3, at 46. This fact alone is evidence that they did not understand the Fourteenth Amendment to have accomplished such a result. Less well known is the fact that the 40th Congress considered and very nearly adopted a proposed amendment which would have expressly prohibited not only discriminatory voter qualifications but discriminatory qualifications for office as well. Each House passed such a measure by the required two-thirds margin. Cong.Globe, 40th Cong., 3d Sess., 1318, 1428 (1869). A conference committee, composed of Senators Stewart and Conkling and Representatives Boutwell, Bingham, and Logan, struck out the office-holding provision, id. at 1563, 1593, and, with Inauguration Day only a week away, both Houses accepted the conference report. Id. at 1564, 1641. See generally Gillette 58-77. While the reasons for these actions are unclear, it is unlikely that they were provoked by the idea that the Fourteenth Amendment covered the field; such a rationale seemingly would have made the enfranchising provision itself unnecessary. [p167]

The 41st Congress readmitted the remaining three States of the Confederacy. The admitting act in each case recited good faith ratification of the Forteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, and imposed the fundamental conditions that the States should not restrict the elective franchise, [18] and

[t]hat it shall never be lawful for the said State to deprive any citizen of the United States, on account of his race, color, or previous condition of servitude, of the right to hold office under the constitution and laws of said State.

Act of Jan. 26, 1870, c. 10, 16 Stat. 62, 63 (Virginia); Act of Feb. 23, 1870, c.19, 16 Stat. 67, 68 (Mississippi); Act of Mar. 30, 1870, c. 39, 16 Stat. 80, 81 (Texas).

These materials demonstrate not only that § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment is susceptible of an interpretation that it does not reach suffrage qualifications, but that this is the interpretation given by the immediately succeeding Congresses. Such an interpretation is the most reasonable reading of the section in view of the background against which it was proposed and adopted, particularly the doubts about the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act, the prejudice in the North against any recognition of the principle of Negro suffrage, and the basic constitutional structure of leaving suffrage qualifications with the States. [19] If any further clarification were [p168] needed, one would have thought it provided by the second section of the same Amendment, which specifically contemplated that the right to vote would be denied or abridged by the States on racial or other grounds. As a unanimous Court once asked, "Why this, if it was not in the power of the [state] legislature to deny the right of suffrage to some male inhabitants?" Minor v. Happersett, 21 Wall. 162, 174 (1875).

The Government suggests that the list of protected qualifications in § 2 is "no more than descriptive of voting laws as they then stood." Brief for the United States, Nos. 4, Orig., and 47, Orig., 75. This is wholly inaccurate. Aside from racial restrictions, all States had residency requirements, and many had literacy, property, or taxation qualifications. On the other hand, several of the Western States permitted aliens to vote if they had satisfied certain residency requirements and had declared [p169] their intention to become citizens. [20] It hardly seems necessary to observe that the politicians who framed the Fourteenth Amendment were familiar with the makeup of the electorate. In any event, the congressional debates contain such proof in ample measure. [21]

Assuming, then, that § 2 represents a deliberate selection of the voting qualifications to be penalized, what is the point of it? The Government notes that "it was intended — although it has never been used — to provide a remedy against exclusion of the newly freed slaves from the vote." Brief for the Defendant, Nos. 43, Orig., and 44, Orig., 20. Undoubtedly this was the primary purpose. But the framers of the Amendment, with their attention thus focused on racial voting qualifications, could hardly have been unaware of § 1. If they understood that section to forbid such qualifications, the simple means of penalizing this conduct would have been to impose a reduction of representation for voting discrimination in violation of § 1. Their adoption instead of the awkward phrasing of § 2 is therefore significant.

To be sure, one might argue that § 2 is simply a rhetorical flourish, and that the qualifications listed there are merely the ones which the framers deemed to be consistent with the alleged prohibition of § 1. This argument is not only unreasonable on its face and untenable in light of the historical record; it is fatal to the validity of the reduction of the voting age in § 302 of the Act before us.

The only sensible explanation of § 2, therefore, is that the racial voter qualifications it was designed to penalize [p170] were understood to be permitted by § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Amendment was a halfway measure, adopted to deprive the South of representation until it should enfranchise the freedmen, but to have no practical effect in the North. It was politically acceptable precisely because of its regional consequences and its avoidance of an explicit recognition of the principle of Negro suffrage. As my Brother BLACK states:

[I]t cannot be successfully argued that the Fourteenth Amendment was intended to strip the States of their power, carefully preserved in the original Constitution, to govern themselves.

Ante at 127. The detailed historical materials make this unmistakably clear.

I CEdit

The first place to look for the understanding of the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment is the Journal of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction. [22] The exact sequence of the actions of this Committee presumably had little or no effect on the members of Congress who were not on the Committee, for the Committee attempted to keep its deliberations secret, [23] and the Journal itself was lost for nearly 20 years. [24] Nevertheless the Journal, although only a record of proposals and votes, illustrates the thoughts of those leading figures of Congress who were members and participated in the drafting of the Amendment.

Two features emerge from such a review with startling clarity. First, the Committee regularly rejected explicitly [p171] enfranchising proposals in favor of plans which would postpone enfranchisement, leave it to congressional discretion, or abandon it altogether. Second, the abandonment of Negro suffrage as a goal exactly corresponded with the adoption of provisions to reduce representation for discriminatory restrictions on the ballot.

This correspondence was present from the start. Five plans were proposed to deal with representation. One would have prohibited racial qualifications for voters and based representation on the whole number of citizens in the State; the other four proposals contained no enfranchising provision, but in various ways would have reduced representation for States where the vote was racially restricted. Kendrick 41-44. A subcommittee reduced the five proposals to two, one prohibiting discrimination and the other reducing representation where it was present. On Stevens' motion, the latter alternative was accepted by a vote of 11 to 3, Kendrick 51; with minor changes it was subsequently reported as H.R. 51.

The subcommittee also proposed that whichever provision on the basis of representation was adopted, the Congress should be empowered to legislate to secure all citizens "the same political rights and privileges" and also "equal protection in the enjoyment of life, liberty and property." Kendrick 51. After the Committee reported H.R. 51, it turned to consideration of this proposal. At a meeting attended by only 10 members, a motion to strike out the clause authorizing Congress to legislate for equal political rights and privileges lost by a vote of six to four. Kendrick 57. At a subsequent meeting, however, Bingham had the subcommittee proposal replaced with another which did not mention political rights and privileges, but was otherwise quite similar. Kendrick 61; see the opinion of MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, MR. JUSTICE WHITE, and MR. JUSTICE [p172] MARSHALL, post at 258-259, for the text of the two provisions. The Committee reported the substitute as H.R. 63. In the House, so much concern was expressed over the centralization of power the amendment would work — a few said it would even authorize Congress to regulate the suffrage — that the matter was dropped. Post at 260.

The Fourteenth Amendment had as its most direct antecedent a proposal drafted by Robert Dale Owen, who was not a member of Congress, and presented to the Joint Committee by Stevens. [25] Originally, the plan provided for mandatory enfranchisement in 1876 and for reduction of representation until that date. Kendrick 82-84. However, Stevens was pressured by various congressional delegations who wanted nothing to do with Negro suffrage, even at a remove of 10 years. [26] He therefore successfully moved to strike out the enfranchising provision and correspondingly to abolish the 10-year limitation on reduction of representation for racial discrimination. The motion carried by a vote of 12 to 2. Kendrick 101.

Bingham was then successful in replacing § 1 of Owen's proposal, which read:

No discrimination shall be made by any State, or by the United States, as to the civil rights of persons, because of race, color, or previous condition of servitude

with the following now-familiar language:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive [p173] any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Kendrick 106. The summary style of the Journal leaves unclear the reasons for the change. However, Bingham himself had rather consistently voted against proposals for direct and immediate enfranchisement, [27] and, on the face of things, it seems unlikely that the other members of the Joint Committee understood his provision to be an enfranchising proposal. [28] That they did not so understand is [p174] demonstrated by the speeches in the debates on the floor. [29]

Before I examine those debates, a word of explanation is in order. For obvious reasons, the discussions of voter qualifications in the 39th Congress and among the public were cast primarily in terms of racial disqualifications. This does not detract from their utility as guides to interpretation. When an individual speaker said that the Amendment would not result in the enfranchisement of Negroes, he must have taken one of two views: either the Amendment did not reach voter qualifications at all or it set standards limiting state restrictions on the ballot, but those standards did not prohibit racial discrimination. I have already set out some of the reasons which lead me to conclude that the former interpretation is correct, and that it is the understanding [p175] shared by the framers of the Amendment, as well as by almost all of the opponents. The mere statement of the latter position appears to me to be a complete refutation of it. Even on its wholly unsupportable assumptions (1) that certain framers of the Amendment contemplated that the privileges and immunities of citizens included the vote, (2) that they intended to permit state laws to abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens whenever it was rational to do so, and (3) that they agreed on the rationality of prohibiting the freed slaves from voting, this remarkable theory still fails to explain why they understood the Amendment to permit racial voting qualifications in the free States of the North.

I DEdit

On May 8, 1866, Thaddeus Stevens led off debate on H.R. 127, the Joint Resolution proposing the Fourteenth Amendment. After explaining the delay of the Joint Committee in coming up with a plan of reconstruction, he apologized for his proposal in advance:

This proposition is not all that the committee desired. It falls far short of my wishes, but it fulfills my hopes. I believe it is all that can be obtained in the present state of public opinion. Not only Congress but the several States are to be consulted. Upon a careful survey of the whole ground, we did not believe that nineteen of the loyal States could be induced to ratify any proposition more stringent than this.

Globe 2459.

In the climate of the times, Stevens could hardly have been understood as referring to anything other than the failure of the measure to make some provision for the enfranchisement of the freedmen. However, lest any mistake be made, he recounted the history of the Committee's prior effort in the field of representation and suffrage, [p176] H.R. 51, which "would surely have secured the enfranchisement of every citizen at no distant period." That measure was dead, "slaughtered by a puerile and pedantic criticism," and "unless this (less efficient, I admit) shall pass, its death has postponed the protection of the colored race perhaps for ages." Ibid.

With this explanation made, Stevens turned to a section-by-section study of the proposed resolution. The results to be achieved by § 1, as he saw it, would be equal punishment for crime, equal entitlement to the benefits of "[w]hatever law protects the white man," equal means of redress, and equal competence to testify. Ibid. If he thought the section provided equal access to the polls, despite his immediately preceding apology for the fact that it did not, his failure to mention that application is remarkable. [30]

Turning then to § 2, Stevens again discussed racial qualifications for voting. He explained the section as follows:

If any State shall exclude any of her adult male citizens from the elective franchise, or abridge that right, she shall forfeit her right to representation in the same proportion. The effect of this provision will be either to compel the States to grant universal suffrage or so to shear them of their power as to keep them forever in a hopeless minority in the national Government, both legislative and executive.

Ibid. Stevens recognized that it might take several years for the coercive effect of the Amendment to result in Negro suffrage, but since this would give time for education and enlightenment of the freedmen, "That short delay would [p177] not be injurious." Ibid. He did not indicate that he believed it would be unconstitutional. He admitted that § 2 was not so good as the proposal which had been defeated in the Senate, for that, by reducing representation by all the members of a race if any one was discriminated against, would have hastened full enfranchisement. Section 2 allowed proportional credit. "But it is a short step forward. The large stride which we in vain proposed is dead. . . ." Globe 2460.

I have dealt at length with Stevens' remarks because of his prominent position in the House and in the Joint Committee. The remaining remarks, except for Bingham's summation, can be treated in more summary fashion. Of the supporters of the Amendment, Garfield of Ohio, [31] Kelley of Pennsylvania, [32] Boutwell of Massachusetts (a member of the Joint Committee), [33] [p178] Eliot of Massachusetts, [34] Beaman of Michigan, [35] and Farnsworth of Illinois, [36] expressed their regret that the Amendment did not prohibit restrictions on the franchise. As the quotations set out in the margin indicate, the absence of such a prohibition was generally attributed to prejudice in the Congress, in the States, or both, to such an extent that an enfranchising amendment could not pass. This corresponds with the first part of Stevens' introductory speech. [p179]

Other supporters of the Amendment obviously based their remarks on their understanding that it did not affect state laws imposing discriminatory voting.qualifications, but did not indicate that the omission was a drawback in their view. In this group were Thayer of Pennsylvania, [37] Broomall of Pennsylvania, [38] Raymond of New York, [39] McKee of Kentucky, [40] Miller of Pennsylvania, [41] [p180] Banks of Massachusetts, [42] and Eckley of Ohio. [43]

The remaining members of the House who supported the Fourteenth Amendment either did not speak at all or did not address themselves to the suffrage issue in any very clear terms. Those in the latter group who gave speeches on the proposed Amendment included [p181] Spalding of Ohio, [44] Longyear of Michigan, [45] and Shellabarger of Ohio. [46] The remaining Republican members of the Joint Committee — Washburne of Illinois, Morrill of Vermont, Conkling of New York, and Blow of Missouri — did not participate in the debates over the Amendment.

In the opposition to the Amendment were only the handful of Democrats. Even they, with one seeming exception, did not assert that the Amendment was applicable to suffrage, although they would have been expected to do so if they thought such a reading plausible. Finck of Ohio and Shanklin of Kentucky did not even [p182] mention Negro suffrage in their attacks on the Amendment, although Finck discussed the reasons why the Southern States could not be expected to ratify it, Globe 2460-2462, and Shanklin characterized the Amendment as "tyrannical and oppressive." Globe 2501. Eldridge of Wisconsin [47] and Randall of Pennsylvania [48] affirmatively indicated their understanding that, with the Amendment, the Radicals had at least temporarily abandoned their crusade for Negro suffrage, as did Finck when the measure returned from the Senate with amendments. [49]

The other two Democrats to participate in the three days of debate on H.R. 127, Boyer of Pennsylvania and Rogers of New Jersey, have been a source of great comfort to those who set out to prove that the history of the Fourteenth Amendment is inconclusive on this issue. Each, in the course of a lengthy speech, included a sentence which, taken out of context, can be read to indicate a fear that § 1 might prohibit racial restrictions on the ballot. Boyer said,

The first section embodies the principles of the civil rights bill, and is intended to secure ultimately, and to some extent indirectly, [p183] the political equality of the negro race.

Globe 2467. Rogers, commenting on the uncertain scope of the Privileges and Immunities Clause, observed "The right to vote is a privilege." Globe 2538.

While these two statements are perhaps innocuous enough to be left alone, it is noteworthy that each speaker had earlier in the session delivered a tirade against the principle of Negro suffrage; [50] if either seriously believed that the Fourteenth Amendment might enfranchise the freedmen, he was unusually calm about the fact. That they did not seriously interpret the Amendment in this way is indicated as well by other portions of their speeches. [51] [p184]

Two other opponents of the Fourteenth Amendment, Phelps of Maryland and Niblack of Indiana, made statements which have been adduced to show that there was no consensus on the applicability of the Fourteenth Amendment to suffrage laws. Phelps voiced his sentiments on May 5, three days before the beginning of debate. [52] In the course of a speech urging a soft policy on reconstruction, he expressed the fear that the Amendment would authorize Congress to define the privileges of citizens to include the suffrage — or indeed that it might have that effect proprio vigore. Globe 2398. Phelps did not repeat this sentiment after he was contradicted by speaker after speaker during the debates proper; indeed, he did not take part in the debates at all, but simply voted against the Amendment, along with most of his Democratic colleagues. Globe 2545. [53]

As for Niblack, on the first day of debate, he made the following remarks:

I give notice that I will offer the following amendment if I shall have the opportunity: [p185]

Add to the fifth section as follows:

Provided, That nothing contained in this article shall be so construed as to authorize Congress to regulate or control the elective franchise within any State, or to abridge or restrict the power of any State to regulate or control the same within its own jurisdiction, except as in the third section hereof prescribed.

Globe 2465. Like Phelps, Niblack found it unnecessary to participate in the debates. He was not heard from again until the vote on the call for the previous question. As Garfield ascertained at the time, the only opportunity to amend H.R. 127 would arise if the demand was voted down. Niblack voted to sustain it. Globe 2545.

Debate in the House was substantially concluded by Bingham, the man primarily responsible for the language of § 1. Without equivocation, he stated:

The amendment does not give, as the second section shows, the power to Congress of regulating suffrage in the several States.
The second section excludes the conclusion that, by the first section, suffrage is subjected to congressional law, save, indeed, with this exception, that as the right in the people of each State to a republican government and to choose their Representatives in Congress is of the guarantees of the Constitution, by this amendment a remedy might be given directly for a case supposed by Madison, where treason might change a State government from a republican to a despotic government, and thereby deny suffrage to the people.

Globe 2542.

Stevens then arose briefly in rebuttal. He attacked Bingham for saying in another portion of his speech that the disqualification provisions of § 3 were unenforceable. He did not contradict — or even refer to — Bingham's [p186] interpretation of §§ 1 and 2. Globe 2544. The vote was taken and the resolution passed immediately thereafter. Globe 2545.

To say that Stevens did not contradict Bingham is to minimize the force of the record. Not once during the three days of debate did any supporter of the Amendment criticize or correct any of the Republicans or Democrats who observed that the Amendment left the ballot "exclusively under the control of the States." Globe 2542 (Bingham). This fact is tacitly admitted even by those who find the debates "inconclusive." The only contrary authority they can find in the debates is the pale remarks of the four Democrats already discussed. [54]

In the Senate, which did not have a gag rule, matters proceeded at a more leisurely pace. The introductory speech would normally have been given by Senator Fessenden of Maine, the Chairman of the Joint Committee on behalf of the Senate, but he was still weak with illness, and unable to deliver a lengthy speech. The duty of presenting the views of the Joint Committee therefore devolved on Senator Howard of Michigan. [55] [p187]

Howard minced no words. He stated that

the first section of the proposed amendment does not give to either of these classes the right of voting. The right of suffrage is not, in law, one of the privileges or immunities thus secured by the Constitution. It is merely the creature of law. It has always been regarded in this country as the result of positive local law, not regarded as one of those fundamental rights lying at the basis of all society and without which a people cannot exist except as slaves, subject to a depotism [sic].

Globe 2766. "The second section leaves the right to regulate the elective franchise still with the States, and does not meddle with that right." Ibid. Howard stated that, while he personally would have preferred to see the freedmen enfranchised, the Committee was confronted with the necessity of proposing an amendment which could be ratified.

The committee were of opinion that the States are not yet prepared to sanction so fundamental a change as would be the concession of the right of suffrage to the colored race. We may as well state it plainly and fairly, so that there shall be no misunderstanding on the subject. It was our opinion that three-fourths of the States of this Union could not be induced to vote to grant the right of suffrage, even in any degree or under any restriction, to the colored race.

Ibid. Howard's forthright attempt to prevent misunderstanding was completely successful insofar as the Senate was concerned; at least, no one has yet discovered a remark during the Senate debates on the proposed Fourteenth Amendment which indicates any contrary impression. [56] [p188] For some, however, time has muddied the clarity with which he spoke. [57]

The Senate, like the House, made frequent reference to the fact that the proposed amendment would not result in the enfranchisement of the freedmen. The supporters [p189] who expressed their regret at the fact were Wade of Ohio, [58] Poland of Vermont, [59] Stewart of Nevada, [60] Howe of Wisconsin, [61] Henderson of Missouri, [62] [p190] and Yates of Illinois. [63] The remarks of Senator Sherman of Ohio, whose support for the amendment was lukewarm, see Globe 2986, seem to have been based on the common interpretation. [64]

Doolittle of Wisconsin, whose support for the President resulted in his virtually being read out of the Republican Party, proposed to base representation on adult male voters. Globe 2942. In a discussion with Senator Grimes of Iowa, a member of the Joint Committee, about the desirability of this change, Doolittle defended himself by pointing out that: "Your amendment proposes to [p191] allow the States to say who shall vote." Globe 2943. Grimes did not respond. Among the Democrats, no different view was expressed. Those whose remarks are informative are Hendricks of Indiana, [65] Cowan of Pennsylvania, [66] Davis of Kentucky, [67] and Johnson of Maryland. [68]

Senator Howard, who had opened debate, made the last remarks in favor of the Amendment. He said:

We know very well that the States retain the power, which they have always possessed, of regulating the right of suffrage in the States. It is the theory of the Constitution itself. That right has never been taken from them; no endeavor has ever been made to take it from them; and the theory of this whole amendment is to leave the power of regulating the suffrage with the people or Legislatures of the States, and not to assume to regulate [p192] it by any clause of the Constitution of the United States.

Globe 3039. Shortly thereafter, the Amendment was approved. Globe 3041-3042.

In the House, there was a brief discussion of the Senate amendments and the measure generally, chiefly by the Democrats. Stevens then concluded the debate as he had begun it, expressing his regret that the Amendment would not enfranchise the freedmen. [69] The House accepted the Senate changes and sent the measure to the States. Globe 3149.

I EEdit

It has been suggested that, despite this evidence of congressional understanding, which seems to me overwhelming, the history is nonetheless inconclusive. Primary reliance is placed on debates over H.R. 51, the Joint Committee's first effort in the field of the basis of representation. In these debates, some of the more extreme Radicals, typified by Senator Sumner of Massachusetts, suggested that Congress had power to interfere with state voter qualifications at least to the extent of enfranchising the freedmen. This power was said to exist in a variety of constitutional provisions, including Art. I, § 2, Art. I, § 4, the war power, the power over territories, the guarantee of a republican form of government, and § 2 of the Thirteenth Amendment. Those who held this view expressed concern lest the Committee's proposal be read to authorize the States to discriminate on racial grounds, and stated that they could not vote for the measure if such was the correct construction. They were sometimes comforted by supporters [p193] of the committee proposal, who assured them that there would be no such effect. From these statements, and the fact that some of those who took the extreme view ultimately did vote for the proposed Fourteenth Amendment, it is sought to construct a counter-argument: if H.R. 51, properly interpreted, would not have precluded congressional exercise of power otherwise existing under the constitutional provisions referred to, then § 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment, properly interpreted, does not preclude the exercise of congressional power under §§ 1 and 5 of that Amendment.

This argument, however, is even logically fallacious, and, quite understandably, none of the opinions filed today places much reliance on it. I do not maintain that the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment took away with one hand what they had given with the other, but simply that the Amendment must be construed as a whole, and that, for the reasons already given, supra, at 167-170, the inclusion of § 2 demonstrates that the framers never intended to confer the power which my Brethren seek to find in §§ 1 and 5. Bingham, for one, distinguished between these two positions. When it was suggested in the debates over H.R. 51 that the proviso would remove preexisting congressional power over voting qualifications, Bingham made the response quoted by my colleagues. Globe 431-432; see post at 276-277. When it was observed during the debates over the proposed Fourteenth Amendment that § 2 demonstrated that the Amendment did not reach state control over voting qualifications, Bingham was the one making the observation. Globe 2542, quoted supra at 185. As Bingham seems to have recognized, the sort of argument he made in connection with H.R. 51 is beside the point with respect to the Fourteenth Amendment.

In any event, even disregarding its analytical difficulties, the argument is based on blatant factual shortcomings. All but one of the speakers on whose statements [p194] primary reliance is placed stated, either during the debates on the Fourteenth Amendment or subsequently, that the Amendment did not enfranchise the freedmen. [70] Finally, some of those determined to sustain the legislation now before us rely on speeches made between two and three years after Congress had sent the proposed Amendment to the States. Boutwell and Stevens in the House, and Sumner in the Senate, argued that the Fifteenth [p195] Amendment or enfranchising legislation was unnecessary because the Fourteenth Amendment prohibited racial discrimination in voter qualifications. Each had earlier expressed the opposite position. [71] Their subsequent attempts to achieve by assertion what they had not had the votes to achieve by constitutional processes can hardly be entitled to weight.

I FEdit

State materials relating to the ratification process are not very revealing. For the most part, only gubernatorial messages and committee reports have survived. [72] So far as my examination of these materials reveals, while the opponents of the Amendment were divided [p196] and sometimes equivocal on whether it might be construed to require enfranchisement, [73] the supporters of the Amendment in the States approached the congressional proponents in the unanimity of their interpretation. I have discovered only one brief passage in support of the Amendment which appears to be based on the assumption that it would result in enfranchisement. [74] These remarks, in the message of the Governor of Illinois, had to compete in the minds of the legislators with the viewpoint of the Chicago Tribune. This Radical journal repeatedly criticized the Amendment's lack of an enfranchising provision, and at one time it even expressed the hope that the South would refuse to ratify the Amendment so that the North would turn to enfranchisement of the freedmen as the only means of reconstruction. June 25, 1866, quoted in James 177. In all the other States I have examined, where the materials are sufficiently full for the understanding of a supporter of the Amendment to appear, his understanding [p197] has been that enfranchisement would not result. [75]

The scanty official materials can be supplemented by other sources. There was a congressional election in the fall of the year the Fourteenth Amendment went to the States. The Radicals ran on the Amendment as their reconstruction program, attempting to force voters to choose between their plan and that of President Johnson. From the campaign speeches and from newspaper reactions, we can get some further idea of the understanding of the States.

The tone of the campaign was set by the formal report of the Joint Committee, which Fessenden openly stated he had composed as a partisan document. James 147. Indeed, it was not even submitted to Congress until the day the Senate approved the measure, and then only in manuscript form. Globe 3038. On the delicate issue of Negro suffrage, the report read as follows: [76]

Doubts were entertained whether Congress had power, even under the amended Constitution, to prescribe the qualifications of voters in a State, or could act directly on the subject. It was doubtful, in the opinion of your committee, whether the States would consent to surrender a power they had always exercised, and to which they were attached. As the best if not the only method of surmounting the difficulty, and as eminently just and proper in itself, your committee came to the conclusion that political power should be possessed in all the States exactly in proportion as the right of suffrage should be granted, without distinction of color or race. [p198] This, it was thought, would leave the whole question with the people of each State, holding out to all the advantage of increased political power as an inducement to allow all to participate in its exercise. Such a provision would be, in its nature, gentle and persuasive, and would lead, it was hoped, at no distant day, to an equal participation of all, without distinction, in all the rights and privileges of citizenship, thus affording a full and adequate protection to all classes of citizens, since all would have, through the ballot-box, the power of self-protection.
Holding these views, your committee prepared an amendment to the Constitution to carry out this idea, and submitted the same to Congress. Unfortunately, as we think, it did not receive the necessary constitutional support in the Senate, and therefore could not be proposed for adoption by the States. The principle involved in that amendment is, however, believed to be sound, and your committee have again proposed it in another form, hoping that it may receive the approbation of Congress.

Newspapers expressed the same view of the reach of the Amendment. Even while deliberations were under way, predictions that Congress would come up with a plan involving enfranchisement of the freedmen had gradually ceased. James 91. When the Amendment was released to the press, Andrew Johnson was reported as seeing in it a "practical abandonment of the negro suffrage issue." Cincinnati Daily Commercial, April 30, 1866, quoted in James 117. The New York Herald had reported editorially that the Amendment reflected an abandonment of the Radical push for Negro suffrage and acceptance of Johnson's position that control over suffrage rested exclusively with the States. May 1, 1866, reported in James 119. The Nation, a Radical organ, [p199] attributed the absence of any provision on Negro suffrage to "sheer want of confidence in the public." 2 Nation 545 (May 1, 1866), quoted in James 10. The Chicago Tribune, another Radical organ, complained that § 1 was objectionable as "surplusage," May 5, 1866, quoted in James 123, and, later in the same month, criticized the measure for "postponing, and not settling" the matter of equal political rights for Negroes. May 31, 1866, quoted in James 146. As deliberations continued, the reporting went on in the same vein. The New York Times reported that, with elections approaching, "No one now talks or dreams of forcing Negro suffrage upon the Southern States." June 6, 1866. The Cincinnati Daily Commercial and the Boston Daily Journal for June 7, 1866, commented on the Radicals' abandonment of Negro suffrage. James 145.

Much the same picture emerges from the campaign speeches. Although an occasional Democrat expressed the fear that the Amendment would or might result in political equality, [77] the supporters of the Amendment denied such effects without exception that I have discovered. Among the leading congressional figures who stated in campaign speeches that the Amendment did not prohibit racial voting qualifications were Senators Howe, Lane, Sherman, Sumner, and Trumbull, and Congressmen Bingham, Delano, Schenck, and Stevens. See James 159-168, 173, 178; Fairman, Does the Fourteenth Amendment Incorporate the Bill of Rights?, 2 Stan.L.Rev. 5, 70-78 (1949)

As was pointed out above, all but a handful of Northern States prohibited blacks from voting at all, [p200] and opposition to a change was intense. Between 1865 and 1869, referenda on the issue rejected impartial Negro suffrage in Colorado Territory, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Minnesota (twice), the District of Columbia, Nebraska Territory, Kansas, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, and New York. Only Iowa and Minnesota accepted it, and that on the day Grant was elected to the Presidency. [78] It is inconceivable that those States, in that climate, could have ratified the Amendment with the expectation that it would require them to permit their black citizens to vote.

Small wonder, then, that, in early 1869, substantially the same group of men who three years earlier had proposed the Fourteenth Amendment felt it necessary to make further modifications in the Constitution if state suffrage laws were to be controlled even to the minimal degree of prohibiting qualifications which, on their face, discriminated on the basis of race. If the consequences for our federal system were not so serious, the contention that the history is "inconclusive" would be undeserving of attention. And, with all respect, the transparent failure of attempts to cast doubt on the original understanding is simply further evidence of the force of the historical record.


The history of the Fourteenth Amendment with respect to suffrage qualifications is remarkably free of the problems which bedevil most attempts to find a reliable guide to present decision in the pages of the past. Instead, there is virtually unanimous agreement, clearly and repeatedly expressed, that § 1 of the Amendment did not reach discriminatory voter qualifications. In this rather remarkable situation, the issue of the bearing of the historical understanding on constitutional interpretation squarely arises. [p201]

I must confess to complete astonishment at the position of some of my Brethren that the history of the Fourteenth Amendment has become irrelevant. Ante at 139-140. In the six years since I first set out much of this history, [79] I have seen no justification for such a result which appears to me at all adequate. With matters in this posture, I need do no more by way of justifying my reliance on these materials than sketch the familiar outlines of our constitutional system.

When the Constitution, with its original Amendments, came into being, the States delegated some of their sovereign powers to the Federal Government, surrendered other powers, and expressly retained all powers not delegated or surrendered. Amdt. X. The power to set state voting qualifications was neither surrendered nor delegated, except to the extent that the guarantee of a republican form of government [80] may be thought to require a certain minimum distribution of political power. The power to set qualifications for voters for national office, created by the Constitution, was expressly committed to the States by Art. I, § 2, and Art. II, § 1. [81] By Art. V, States may be deprived of their retained powers only with the concurrence of two-thirds of each House of Congress and three-fourths of the States. No one asserts that the power to set voting qualifications was taken from the States or subjected to federal control by any Amendment before the Fourteenth. The historical evidence makes it plain that the Congress and the States proposing and ratifying that Amendment affirmatively understood that they were not limiting state power over voting qualifications. The [p202] existence of the power therefore survived the amending process, and, except as it has been limited by the Fifteenth, Nineteenth, and Twenty-fourth Amendments, it still exists today. [82] Indeed, the very fact that constitutional amendments were deemed necessary to bring about federal abolition of state restrictions on voting by reason of race (Amdt. XV), sex (Amdt. XIX), and, even with respect to federal elections, the failure to pay state poll taxes (Amdt. XXIV), is itself forceful evidence of the common understanding in 1869, 1919, and 1962, respectively, that the Fourteenth Amendment did not empower Congress to legislate in these respects.

It must be recognized, of course, that the amending process is not the only way in which constitutional understanding alters with time. The judiciary has long been entrusted with the task of applying the Constitution in changing circumstances, and as conditions change the Constitution in a sense changes as well. But when the Court gives the language of the Constitution an [p203] unforeseen application, it does so, whether explicitly or implicitly, in the name of some underlying purpose of the Framers. [83] This is necessarily so; the federal judiciary, which by express constitutional provision is appointed for life, and therefore cannot be held responsible by the electorate, has no inherent general authority to establish the norms for the rest of society. It is limited to elaboration and application of the precepts ordained in the Constitution by the political representatives of the people. When the Court disregards the express intent and understanding of the Framers, it has invaded the realm of the political process to which the amending power was committed, and it has violated the constitutional structure which it is its highest duty to protect. [84]

As the Court is not justified in substituting its own views of wise policy for the commands of the Constitution, still less is it justified in allowing Congress to disregard those commands as the Court understands them. Although Congress' expression of the view that it does have power to alter state suffrage qualifications is entitled to the most respectful consideration by the judiciary, coming as it does from a coordinate branch of government, [85] this cannot displace the duty of this Court to make an independent determination whether Congress has exceeded its powers. The reason for this goes beyond Marshall's assertion that: "It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is." Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137"]1 Cranch 137, 177 (1803). [86] It inheres in the structure of the [p205] constitutional system itself. Congress is subject to none of the institutional restraints imposed on judicial decisionmaking; it is controlled only by the political process. In Article V, the Framers expressed the view that the political restraints on Congress alone were an insufficient control over the process of constitution making. The concurrence of two-thirds of each House and of three-fourths of the States was needed for the political check to be adequate. To allow a simple majority of Congress to have final say on matters of constitutional interpretation is therefore fundamentally out of keeping with the constitutional structure. Nor is that structure adequately protected by a requirement that the judiciary be able to perceive a basis for the congressional interpretation, the only restriction laid down in 1 Cranch 137, 177 (1803). [86] It inheres in the structure of the [p205] constitutional system itself. Congress is subject to none of the institutional restraints imposed on judicial decisionmaking; it is controlled only by the political process. In Article V, the Framers expressed the view that the political restraints on Congress alone were an insufficient control over the process of constitution making. The concurrence of two-thirds of each House and of three-fourths of the States was needed for the political check to be adequate. To allow a simple majority of Congress to have final say on matters of constitutional interpretation is therefore fundamentally out of keeping with the constitutional structure. Nor is that structure adequately protected by a requirement that the judiciary be able to perceive a basis for the congressional interpretation, the only restriction laid down in Katzenbach v. Morgan, 384 U.S. 641 (1966).

It is suggested that the proper basis for the doctrine enunciated in Morgan lies in the relative factfinding competence of Court, Congress, and state legislatures. Post at 246-249. In this view, as I understand it, since Congress is at least as well qualified as a state legislature to determine factual issues, and far better qualified than this Court, where a dispute is basically factual in nature, the congressional finding of fact should control, subject only to review by this Court for reasonableness.

In the first place, this argument has little or no force as applied to the issue whether the Fourteenth Amendment covers voter qualifications. Indeed, I do not understand the adherents of Morgan to maintain the contrary. [p206] But even on the assumption that the Fourteenth Amendment does place a limit on the sorts of voter qualifications which a State may adopt, I still do not see any real force in the reasoning.

When my Brothers refer to "complex factual questions," post at 248, they call to mind disputes about primary, objective facts dealing with such issues as the number of persons between the ages of 18 and 21, the extent of their education, and so forth. The briefs of the four States in these cases take no issue with respect to any of the facts of this nature presented to Congress and relied on by my Brothers DOUGLAS, ante at 141-143, and BRENNAN, WHITE, and MARSHALL, post at 243-246, 279-280. Except for one or two matters of dubious relevance, these facts are not subject to rational dispute. The disagreement in these cases revolves around the evaluation of this largely uncontested factual material. [87] On the assumption that maturity and experience are relevant to intelligent and responsible exercise of the elective franchise, are the immaturity and inexperience of the average 18-, 19-, or 20-year-old sufficiently serious to justify denying such a person a direct voice in decisions affecting his or her life? Whether or not this judgment is characterized as "factual," it calls for striking a balance between incommensurate interests. Where the balance is to be struck depends ultimately on the values and the perspective of the decisionmaker. It is a matter as to which men of good will can and do reasonably differ.

I fully agree that judgments of the sort involved here are beyond the institutional competence and constitutional [p207] authority of the judiciary. See, e.g., Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 266-330 (1962) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting); Kramer v. Union School District, 395 U.S. 621, 634-641 (1969) (STEWART, J., dissenting). They are preeminently matters for legislative discretion, with judicial review, if it exists at all, narrowly limited. But the same reasons which, in my view, would require the judiciary to sustain a reasonable state resolution of the issue also require Congress to abstain from entering the picture.

Judicial deference is based not on relative factfinding competence, but on due regard for the decision of the body constitutionally appointed to decide. Establishment of voting qualifications is a matter for state legislatures. Assuming any authority at all, only when the Court can say with some confidence that the legislature has demonstrably erred in adjusting the competing interests is it justified in striking down the legislative judgment. This order of things is more efficient and more congenial to our system, and, in my judgment, much more likely to achieve satisfactory results than one in which the Court has a free hand to replace state legislative judgments with its own. See Ferguson v. Skrupa, 372 U.S. 726 (1963).

The same considerations apply, and with almost equal force, to Congress' displacement of state decisions with its own ideas of wise policy. The sole distinction between Congress and the Court in this regard is that Congress, being an elective body, presumptively has popular authority for the value judgment it makes. But since the state legislature has a like authority, this distinction between Congress and the judiciary falls short of justifying a congressional veto on the state judgment. The perspectives and values of national legislators on the issue of voting qualifications are likely to differ from those of state legislators, but I see no reason [p208] a priori to prefer those of the national figures, whose collective decision, applying nationwide, is necessarily less able to take account of peculiar local conditions. Whether one agrees with this judgment or not, it is the one expressed by the Framers in leaving voter qualifications to the States. The Supremacy Clause does not, as my colleagues seem to argue, represent a judgment that federal decisions are superior to those of the States whenever the two may differ.

To be sure, my colleagues do not expressly say that Congress or this Court is empowered by the Constitution to substitute its own judgment for those of the States. However, before sustaining a state judgment, they require a "clear showing that the burden imposed is necessary to protect a compelling and substantial governmental interest." [88] Post at 238; see post at 247 n. 30. I should think that, if the state interest were truly "compelling" and "substantial," and a clear showing could be made that the voter qualification was "necessary" to its preservation, no reasonable person would think the qualification undesirable. Equivalently, if my colleagues or a majority of Congress deem a given voting qualification undesirable as a matter of policy, they must consider that the state interests involved are not "compelling" or "substantial" or that they can be adequately protected in other ways. It follows that my colleagues must be prepared to hold invalid as a matter [p209] of federal constitutional law all state voting qualifications which they deem unwise, as well as all such qualifications which Congress reasonably deems unwise. For this reason, I find their argument subject to the same objection as if it explicitly acknowledged such a conclusion.

It seems to me that the notion of deference to congressional interpretation of the Constitution, which the Court promulgated in Morgan, is directly related to this higher standard of constitutionality which the Court intimated in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663 (1966), and brought to fruition in Kramer. When the scope of federal review of state determinations became so broad as to be judicially unmanageable, it was natural for the Court to seek assistance from the national legislature. If the federal role were restricted to its traditional and appropriate scope, review for the sort of "plain error" which is variously described as "arbitrary and capricious," "irrational," or "invidious," there would be no call for the Court to defer to a congressional judgment on this score that it did not find convincing. Whether a state judgment has so exceeded the bounds of reason as to authorize federal intervention is not a matter as to which the political process is intrinsically likely to produce a sounder or more acceptable result. It is a matter of the delicate adjustment of the federal system. In this area, to rely on Congress would make that body a judge in its own cause. The role of final arbiter belongs to this Court.


Since I cannot agree that the Fourteenth Amendment empowered Congress, or the federal judiciary, to control voter qualifications, I turn to other asserted sources of congressional power. My Brother BLACK would find that such power exists with respect to federal elections by [p210] virtue of Art. I, § 4, and seemingly other considerations that he finds implicit in federal authority.

The constitutional provisions controlling the regulation of congressional elections are the following:

Art. I, § 2:

the Electors [for Representatives] in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

Art. I, § 4:

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

Amdt. XVII:

The electors [for Senators] in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

It is difficult to see how words could be clearer in stating what Congress can control and what it cannot control. Surely nothing in these provisions lends itself to the view that voting qualifications in federal elections are to be set by Congress. The reason for the scheme is not hard to find. In the Constitutional Convention, Madison expressed the view that:

The qualifications of electors and elected were fundamental articles in a Republican Govt. and ought to be fixed by the Constitution. If the Legislature could regulate those of either, it can by degrees subvert the Constitution.

2 M. Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, pp. 249-250 (1911). He explained further in The Federalist No. 52, p. 326 (C. Rossiter ed.1961):

To have reduced the different qualifications in the different States to one uniform rule would probably have been as dissatisfactory to some of the [p211] States as it would have been difficult to the convention. The provision made by the convention appears, therefore, to be the best that lay within their option. It must be satisfactory to every State, because it is conformable to the standard already established, or which may be established, by the State itself. It will be safe to the United States because, being fixed by the State constitutions, it is not alterable by the State governments, and it cannot be feared that the people of the States will alter this part of their constitutions in such a manner as to abridge the rights secured to them by the federal Constitution.

See also Federalist No. 60, p. 371 (C. Rossiter ed.1961) (Hamilton), quoted in the opinion of MR. JUSTICE STEWART, post at 290, which is to the same effect.

As to presidential elections, the Constitution provides:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors. . . .

Art. II, § 1, cl. 2.

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

Art. II, § 1, cl. 4. Even the power to control the "Manner" of holding elections, given with respect to congressional elections by Art. I, § 4, is absent with respect to the selection of presidential electors. [89] And, of course, the fact that it was deemed necessary to provide separately for congressional [p212] power to regulate the time of choosing presidential electors and the President himself demonstrates that the power over "Times, Places and Manner" given by Art. I, § 4, does not refer to presidential elections, but only to the elections for Congressmen. Any shadow of a justification for congressional power with respect to congressional elections therefore disappears utterly in presidential elections.


With these major contentions resolved, it is convenient to consider the three sections of the Act individually to determine whether they can be supported by any other basis of congressional power.

IV AEdit

The only constitutional basis advanced in support of the lowering of the voting age is the power to enforce the Equal Protection Clause, a power found in § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment. For the reasons already given, it cannot be said that the statutory provision is valid as declaratory of the meaning of that clause. Its validity therefore must rest on congressional power to lower the voting age as a means of preventing invidious discrimination that is within the purview of that clause.

The history of the Fourteenth Amendment may well foreclose the possibility that § 5 empowers Congress to enfranchise a class of citizens so that they may protect themselves against discrimination forbidden by the first section, but it is unnecessary for me to explore that question. For I think it fair to say that the suggestion that members of the age group between 18 and 21 are threatened with unconstitutional discrimination, or that any hypothetical discrimination is likely to be affected by lowering the voting age, is little short of fanciful. I see no justification for stretching to find any such possibility [p213] when all the evidence indicates that Congress — led on by recent decisions of this Court — thought simply that 18-year-olds were fairly entitled to the vote and that Congress could give it to them by legislation. [90]

I therefore conclude, for these and other reasons given in this opinion, that, in § 302 of the Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1970, Congress exceeded its delegated powers.

IV BEdit

For reasons already stated, neither the power to regulate voting qualifications in presidential elections, asserted by my Brother BLACK, nor the power to declare the meaning of § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, relied on by my Brother DOUGLAS, can support § 202 of the Act. It would also be frivolous to contend that requiring States to allow new arrivals to vote in presidential elections is an appropriate means of preventing local discrimination against them in other respects, or of forestalling violations of the Fifteenth Amendment. The remaining grounds relied on are the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Art. IV, § 2, [91] and the right to travel across state lines.

While the right of qualified electors to cast their ballots and to have their votes counted was held to be a privilege of citizenship in Ex parte Yarbrough, 110 U.S. 651 (1884), and United States v. Classic, 313 U.S. 299 (1941), these decisions were careful to observe that it [p214] remained with the States to determine the class of qualified voters. It was federal law, acting on this state-defined class, which turned the right to vote into a privilege of national citizenship. As the Court has consistently held, the Privileges and Immunities Clauses do not react on the mere status of citizenship to enfranchise any citizen whom an otherwise valid state law does not allow to vote. Minor v. Happersett, 21 Wall. 162, 170-175 (1875); Pope v. Williams, 193 U.S. 621, 632 (1904); Breedlove v. Suttles, 302 U.S. 277, 283 (1937); cf. Snowden v. Hughes, 321 U.S. 1, 7 (1944). Minors, felons, insane persons, and persons who have not satisfied residency requirements are among those citizens who are not allowed to vote in most States. [92] The Privileges and Immunities Clause of Art. IV of the Constitution is a direct descendant of Art. IV of the Articles of Confederation:

The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different States in this Union, the free inhabitants of each of these States, paupers, vagabonds and fugitives from justice excepted, shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several States. . . .

It is inconceivable that these words when used in the Articles could have been understood to abolish state durational residency requirements. [93] There is not a [p215] vestige of evidence that any further extent was envisioned for them when they were carried over into the Constitution. And, as I have shown, when they were substantially repeated in § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, it was affirmatively understood that they did not include the right to vote. The Privileges and Immunities Clause is therefore unavailing to sustain any portion of § 202.

The right to travel across state lines, see United States v. Guest, 383 U.S. 745, 757-758 (1966), and Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, 630 (1969), is likewise insufficient to require Idaho to conform its laws to the requirements of § 202. MR. JUSTICE STEWART justifies § 202 solely on the power under § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to enforce the Privileges and Immunities Clause of § 1, which he deems the basis for the right to travel. Post at 285-287. I find it impossible to square the position that § 5 authorizes Congress to abolish state voting qualifications based on residency with the position that it does not authorize Congress to abolish such qualifications based on race. Since the historical record compels me to accept the latter position, I must reject the former.

MR. JUSTICE; BRENNAN, MR. JUSTICE WHITE, and MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL do not anchor the right of interstate travel to any specific constitutional provision. Post at 237-238. Past decisions to which they refer have relied on the two Privileges and Immunities Clauses, just discussed, the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and the Commerce Clause. See Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. at 630 n. 8; id. at 663-671 (dissenting opinion). The Fifth Amendment is wholly inapplicable to state laws; and surely the Commerce Clause cannot be seriously relied on to sustain the Act here challenged. With no specific clause of the Constitution [p216] empowering Congress to enact § 202, I fail to see how that nebulous judicial construct, the right to travel, can do so.

IV CEdit

The remaining provision of the Voting Rights Act Amendments involved in these cases is the five-year suspension of Arizona's requirement that registrants be able to read the Constitution in English and to write their names. Although the issue is not free from difficulty, I am of the opinion that this provision can be sustained as a valid means of enforcing the Fifteenth Amendment.

Despite the lack of evidence of specific instances of discriminatory application or effect, Congress could have determined that racial prejudice is prevalent throughout the Nation, and that literacy tests unduly lend themselves to discriminatory application, either conscious or unconscious. [94] This danger of violation of § 1 of the Fifteenth Amendment was sufficient to authorize the exercise of congressional power under § 2.

Whether to engage in a more particularized inquiry into the extent and effects of discrimination, either as a condition precedent or as a condition subsequent to suspension of literacy tests, was a choice for Congress to make. [95] The fact that the suspension is only for five years will require Congress to reevaluate at the close of that period. While a less sweeping approach [p217] in this delicate area might well have been appropriate, the choice which Congress made was within the range of the reasonable. [96] I therefore agree that § 201 of the Act is a valid exercise of congressional power to the extent it is involved in this case. I express no view about its validity as applied to suspend tests such as educational qualifications, which do not lend themselves so readily to discriminatory application or effect.

For the reasons expressed in this opinion, I would grant the relief requested in Nos. 43, Orig., and 44, Orig. I would dismiss the complaint in No. 47, Orig., for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. In No. 46, Orig., I would grant declaratory relief with respect to the validity of § 201 of the Voting Rights Act Amendments as applied to Arizona's current literacy test; I would deny relief in all other respects, with leave to reapply to the United States District Court for the District of Arizona for injunctive relief in the event it proves necessary, which I am confident it will not.


In conclusion, I add the following. The consideration that has troubled me most in deciding that the 18-year-old and residency provisions of this legislation should be held unconstitutional is whether I ought to regard the doctrine of stare decisis as preventing me from arriving at that result. For, as I indicated at the outset of this opinion, were I to continue to consider myself constricted by recent past decisions holding that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment reaches [p218] state electoral processes, I would, particularly perforce of the decisions cited in n. 84, supra, be led to cast my vote with those of my Brethren who are of the opinion that the lowering of the voting age and the abolition of state residency requirements in presidential elections are within the ordinary legislative power of Congress.

After much reflection, I have reached the conclusion that I ought not to allow stare decisis to stand in the way of casting my vote in accordance with what I am deeply convinced the Constitution demands. In the annals of this Court few developments in the march of events have so imperatively called upon us to take a fresh hard look at past decisions, which could well be mustered in support of such developments, as do the legislative lowering of the voting age and, albeit to a lesser extent, the elimination of state residential requirements in presidential elections. Concluding, as I have, that such decisions cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny, I think it my duty to depart from them, rather than to lend my support to perpetuating their constitutional error in the name of stare decisis.

In taking this position, I feel fortified by the evident malaise among the members of the Court with those decisions. Despite them, a majority of the Court holds that this congressional attempt to lower the voting age by simple legislation is unconstitutional, insofar as it relates to state elections. Despite them, four members of the Court take the same view of this legislation with respect to federal elections as well; and the fifth member of the Court who considers the legislation constitutionally infirm as regards state elections relies not at all on any of those decisions in reaching the opposite conclusion in federal elections. And of the eight members of the Court who vote to uphold the residential provision of the statute, [p219] only four appear to rely upon any of those decisions in reaching that result.

In these circumstances, I am satisfied that I am free to decide these cases unshackled by a line of decisions which I have felt from the start entailed a basic departure from sound constitutional principle.


=== VOTING RIGHTS ACT AMENDMENTS OF 1970, PUB. L. 91-285, 84 STAT. 314



SEC. 201. (a) Prior to August 6, 1975, no citizen shall be denied, because of his failure to comply with any test or device, the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election conducted in any State or political subdivision of a State as to which the provisions of section 4(a) of this Act are not in effect by reason of determinations made under section 4(b) of this Act.

(b) As used in this section, the term "test or device" means any requirement that a person as a prerequisite for voting or registration for voting (1) demonstrate the ability to read, write, understand, or interpret any matter, (2) demonstrate any educational achievement or his knowledge of any particular subject, (3) possess good moral character, or (4) prove his qualifications by the voucher of registered voters or members of any other class.


SEC. 202. (a) The Congress hereby finds that the imposition and application of the durational residency requirement as a precondition to voting for the offices of President and Vice President, and the lack of sufficient [p220] opportunities for absentee registration and absentee balloting in presidential elections —

(1) denies or abridges the inherent constitutional right of citizens to vote for their President and Vice President;

(2) denies or abridges the inherent constitutional right of citizens to enjoy their free movement across State lines;

(3) denies or abridges the privileges and immunities guaranteed to the citizens of each State under article IV, section 2, clause 1, of the Constitution;

(4) in some instances has the impermissible purpose or effect of denying citizens the right to vote for such officers because of the way they may vote;

(5) has the effect of denying to citizens the equality of civil rights, and due process and equal protection of the laws that are guaranteed to them under the fourteenth amendment; and

(6) does not bear a reasonable relationship to any compelling State interest in the conduct of presidential elections.

(b) Upon the basis of these findings, Congress declares that, in order to secure and protect the above-stated rights of citizens under the Constitution, to enable citizens to better obtain the enjoyment of such rights, and to enforce the guarantees of the fourteenth amendment, it is necessary (1) to completely abolish the durational residency requirement as a precondition to voting for President and Vice President, and (2) to establish nationwide, uniform standards relative to absentee registration and absentee balloting in presidential elections.

(c) No citizen of the United States who is otherwise qualified to vote in any election for President and Vice President shall be denied the right to vote for electors for President and Vice President, or for President and Vice President, in such election because of the failure of such citizen to comply with any durational residency [p221] requirement of such State or political subdivision; nor shall any citizen of the United States be denied the right to vote for electors for President and Vice President, or for President and Vice President, in such election because of the failure of such citizen to be physically present in such State or political subdivision at the time of such election, if such citizen shall have complied with the requirements prescribed by the law of such State or political subdivision providing for the casting of absentee ballots in such election.

(d) For the purposes of this section, each State shall provide by law for the registration or other means of qualification of all duly qualified residents of such State who apply, not later than thirty days immediately prior to any presidential election, for registration or qualification to vote for the choice of electors for President and Vice President or for President and Vice President in such election; and each State shall provide by law for the casting of absentee ballots for the choice of electors for President and Vice President, or for President and Vice President, by all duly qualified residents of such State who may be absent from their election district or unit in such State on the day such election is held and who have applied therefor not later than seven days immediately prior to such election and have returned such ballots to the appropriate election official of such State not later than the time of closing of the polls in such State on the day of such election.

(e) If any citizen of the United States who is otherwise qualified to vote in any State or political subdivision in any election for President and Vice President has begun residence in such State or political subdivision after the thirtieth day next preceding such election and, for that reason, does not satisfy the registration requirements of such State or political subdivision, he shall be allowed to vote for the choice of electors for President and Vice [p222] President, or for President and Vice President, in such election, (1) in person in the State or political subdivision in which he resided immediately prior to his removal if he had satisfied, as of the date of his change of residence, the requirements to vote in that State or political subdivision, or (2) by absentee ballot in the State or political subdivision in which he resided immediately prior to his removal if he satisfies, but for his nonresident status and the reason for his absence, the requirements for absentee voting in that State or political subdivision.

(f) No citizen of the United States who is otherwise qualified to vote by absentee ballot in any State or political subdivision in any election for President and Vice President shall be denied the right to vote for the choice of electors for President and Vice President, or for President and Vice President, in such election because of any requirement of registration that does not include a provision for absentee registration.

(g) Nothing in this section shall prevent any State or political subdivision from adopting less restrictive voting practices than those that are prescribed herein.


SEC. 205. If any provision of this Act or the application of any provision thereof to any person or circumstance is judicially determined to be invalid, the remainder of this Act or the application of such provision to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected by such determination.



SEC. 301. (a) The Congress finds and declares that the imposition and application of the requirement that a [p223] citizen be twenty-one years of age as a precondition to voting in any primary or in any election —

(1) denies and abridges the inherent constitutional rights of citizens eighteen years of age but not yet twenty-one years of age to vote — a particularly unfair treatment of such citizens in view of the national defense responsibilities imposed upon such citizens;

(2) has the effect of denying to citizens eighteen years of age but not yet twenty-one years of age the due process and equal protection of the laws that are guaranteed to them under the fourteenth amendment of the Constitution; and

(3) does not bear a reasonable relationship to any compelling State interest.

(b) In order to secure the constitutional rights set forth in subsection (a), the Congress declares that it is necessary to prohibit the denial of the right to vote to citizens of the United States eighteen years of age or over.


SEC. 302. Except as required by the Constitution, no citizen of the United States who is otherwise qualified to vote in any State or political subdivision in any primary or in any election shall be denied the right to vote in any such primary or election on account of age if such citizen is eighteen years of age or older.


SEC. 305. The provisions of title III shall take effect with respect to any primary or election held on or after January 1, 1971.


Art. 7, § 2. No person shall be entitled to vote at any general election, or for any office that now is, or hereafter may be, elective by the people, or upon any question [p224] which may be submitted to a vote of the people, unless such person be a citizen of the United States of the age of twenty-one years or over, and shall have resided in the State one year immediately preceding such election, provided that qualifications for voters at a general election for the purpose of electing presidential electors shall be as prescribed by law. The word "citizen" shall include persons of the male and female sex.


§ 16-101. Qualifications of elector

A. Every resident of the state is qualified to become an elector and may register to vote at all elections authorized by law if he:

1. Is a citizen of the United States.

2. Will be twenty-one years or more of age prior to the regular general election next following his registration.

3. Will have been a resident of the state one year and of the county in which he claims the right to vote thirty days next preceding the election.

4. Is able to read the constitution of the United States in the English language in a manner showing that he is neither prompted nor reciting from memory, unless prevented from so doing by physical disability.

5. Is able to write his name, unless prevented from so doing by physical disability.

B. At an election held between the date of registration and the next regular general election, the elector is eligible to vote if at the date of the intervening election he is twenty-one years of age and has been a resident of the state one year and the county thirty days.

C. A person convicted of treason or a felony, unless restored to civil rights, or an idiot, insane person or person under guardianship is not qualified to register. As amended, Laws 1970, c. 151, § 1. [p225]

§ 16-107. Closing of registrations

A. No elector shall be registered to vote between five o'clock p.m. of the day which is two months preceding the date of the next primary election and seven o'clock p.m. of the day of the primary election.

B. No elector shall be registered to vote between five o'clock p.m. of the eighth Monday preceding a general election and seven o'clock p.m. of the day thereof. As amended, Laws 1958, c. 48, § 1; Laws 1970, c. 151, § 5.


Art. 6, § 2. Qualifications of electors. — Except as in this article otherwise provided, every male or female citizen of the United States, twenty-one years old, who has actually resided in this state or territory for six months, and in the county where he or she offers to vote, thirty days next preceding the day of election, if registered as provided by law, is a qualified elector; provided however, that every citizen of the United States, twenty-one years old, who has actually resided in this state for sixty days next preceding the day of election, if registered as required by law, is a qualified elector for the sole purpose of voting for presidential electors; and until otherwise provided by the legislature, women who have the qualifications prescribed in this article may continue to hold such school offices and vote at such school elections as provided by the laws of Idaho territory.


Sec. 34-401. Qualifications of voters. — Every person over the age of twenty-one (21) years, possessing the qualifications following, shall be entitled to vote at all elections: He shall be a citizen of the United States and shall have resided in this state six (6) months immediately preceding the election at which he offers to vote, [p226] and in the county thirty (30) days: provided, that no person shall be permitted to vote at any county seat election who has not resided in the county six (6) months, and in the precinct ninety (90) days, where he offers to vote; nor shall any person be permitted to vote at any election for the division of the county, or striking off from any county any part thereof, who has not the qualifications provided for in section 3, article 18, of the constitution; nor shall any person be denied the right to vote at any school district election, nor to hold any school district office on account of sex.

34-408. Eligibility of new residents to vote. — Each citizen of the United States who, immediately prior to his removal to this state, was a citizen of another state and who has been a resident of this state for sixty (60) days next preceding the day of election but for less than the six (6) month period of required residence for voting prior to a presidential election, is entitled to vote for presidential and vice-presidential electors at that election, but for no other offices, if (1) he otherwise possesses the substantive qualifications to vote in this state, except the requirement of residence and registration, and (2) he complies with the provisions of this act.

34-409. Application for presidential ballot by new residents. — A person desiring to qualify under this act in order to vote for presidential and vice-presidential electors shall be considered as registered within the meaning of this act if on or before ten (10) days prior to the date of the general election, he shall make an application in the form of an affidavit executed in duplicate in the presence of the county auditor, substantially as follows. . . .

34-413. Voting by new residents. — (1) The applicant, upon receiving the ballot for presidential and vice-presidential electors shall mark forthwith the ballot in the [p227] presence of the county auditor, but in a manner that the official cannot know how the ballot is marked. He shall then fold the ballot in the county auditor's presence so as to conceal the markings, and deposit and seal it in an envelope furnished by the county auditor.

34-1101. Absent voting authorized. — Any qualified elector of the state of Idaho who is absent or expects to be absent from the election precinct in which he resides on the day of holding any election under any of the laws of this state in which an official ballot is required, or who is within the election precinct and is, or will be, unable, because of physical disability, or because of blindness, to go to the voting place, and if registration is required for such election, who is duly registered therefor, may vote at any such election, as hereinafter provided.

34-1105. Return of ballot. — On marking such ballot or ballots such absent or disabled or blind elector shall refold same as theretofore folded and shall inclose the same in said official envelope and seal said envelope securely and mail by registered or certified mail or deliver it in person to the officer who issued same; provided, that an absentee ballot must be received by the issuing officer by 12:00 o'clock noon on the day of the election before such ballot may be counted. Said ballot or ballots shall be so marked, folded and sealed by said voter in private and secretly. Provided, that, whenever the disability or blindness makes it necessary that the voter shall be assisted in marking his ballot, such voter may have the assistance of any person of his choice in marking his ballot.


Art. II, § 2. Qualifications of electors. (1) Every citizen of the United States is entitled to vote in all elections not otherwise provided for by this Constitution if such citizen:

(a) Is 21 years of age or older. . . . [p228]


Art. 6, § 1. Classes of persons not allowed to vote

Section 1. The following classes of persons shall not be allowed to vote in this State, to-wit:

First: Persons under twenty-one (21) years of age.

Second: Idiots and lunatics.

Third: All paupers supported by any county.

Fourth: All persons convicted of any felony, subject to such exceptions as the Legislature may make.

§ 2. Qualified elector; registration; absentee voting

Sec. 2. Every person subject to none of the foregoing disqualifications who shall have attained the age of twenty-one (21) years and who shall be a citizen of the United States and who shall have resided in this State one (1) year next preceding an election and the last six (6) months within the district or county in which such person offers to vote, shall be deemed a qualified elector; provided, however, that, before offering to vote at an election a voter shall have registered annually, but such requirement for registration shall not be considered a qualification of an elector within the meaning of the term "qualified elector" as used in any other Article of this Constitution in respect to any matter except qualification and eligibility to vote at an election. Any legislation enacted in anticipation of the adoption of this Amendment shall not be invalid because of its anticipatory nature. The Legislature may authorize absentee voting. And this provision of the Constitution shall be self-enacting without the necessity of further legislation.


Article 5.01. Classes of persons not qualified to vote

The following classes of persons shall not be allowed to vote in this state:

1. Persons under twenty-one years of age.

2. Idiots and lunatics. [p229]

3. All paupers supported by the county.

4. All persons convicted of any felony except those restored to full citizenship and right of suffrage or pardoned.

Art. 5.02. Qualification and requirements for voting

Every person subject to none of the foregoing disqualifications who shall have attained the age of twenty-one years and who shall be a citizen of the United States and who shall have resided in this state one year next preceding an election and the last six months within the district or county in which such person offers to vote, and who shall have registered as a voter, shall be deemed a qualified elector. No person shall be permitted to vote unless he has registered in accordance with the provisions of this code. The provisions of this section, as modified by Sections 35 and 39 of this code, shall apply to all elections, including general, special, and primary elections, whether held by the state, by a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state, or by a political party.


^ . The Attorney General of the United States, a citizen of New York, is named as defendant. The jurisdictional basis alleged is Art. III, § 2, which gives this Court original jurisdiction over controversies between a State and a citizen of another State. We held a similar suit justiciable and otherwise within our original jurisdiction in South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U.S. 301, 307 (1966). The parties have not asked us to reexamine the validity of that ruling, and since the Court has not undertaken to do so, I am content to sustain jurisdiction on the authority of that decision.

^ . In response to inquiries from the Attorney General, Arizona, Oregon, and Texas indicated willingness to abide by § 202 of the Act, governing residency, registration, and absentee voting in presidential elections and to conform conflicting state laws.

^ . The account in the text is largely drawn from J. James, The Framing of the Fourteenth Amendment (1956) (hereafter James), and to some extent from W. Gillette, The Right To Vote: Politics and the Passage of the Fifteenth Amendment (1969) (hereafter Gillette), and B. Kendrick, The Journal of the Joint Committee of Fifteen on Reconstruction (1914) (hereafter Kendrick), as well.

^ .

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

^ . See infra at 209-212, for the text of these provisions, and for discussion of the contention that they empower Congress to set qualifications of voters in federal elections.

^ . "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government."

^ . E.g., Proclamation of May 29, 1865, 13 Stat. 760 (North Carolina).

^ . The texts of the state constitutions are most readily available in F. Thorpe, The Federal and State Constitutions (1909). The qualifications imposed by the various States three years later, when the Fifteenth Amendment was proposed, are presented in tabular form in Hearings on the Voting Rights Bill, S. 1564, before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., 128-129 (1965).

^ . James 33.

^ . See Globe 209 (Freedmen's Bureau Bill); Globe 211 (Civil Rights Bill).

^ . While formally further consideration was postponed until a date in April, six weeks off, Globe 1095, it was generally understood that "April means indefinitely." 2 Nation 289 (Mar. 1, 1866), quoted in James 87.

^ . The only change made in § 1 was the addition of the Citizenship Clause by the Senate. Globe 3041. The primary change made in § 2 was to condition reduction of representation on denial or abridgment of the right to vote in certain named elections, rather than to speak generally of denial or abridgment of "the elective franchise." Ibid. That section now reads:

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

^ . Section 1 of that Act provided in part that

all persons . . . shall have the same right, in every State and Territory in the United States, to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, and give evidence, to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property, and to full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property, as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, and penalties, and to none other, any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom to the contrary notwithstanding.

Act of Apr. 9, 1866, § 1, 14 Stat. 27.

^ . In this connection, Professor Fairman's admonition of 20 years ago is even more forceful than it was when he wrote:

We know so much more about the constitutional law of the Fourteenth Amendment than the men who adopted it that we should remind ourselves not to be surprised to find them vague where we want them to prove sharp. Eighty years of adjudication has taught us distinctions and subtleties where the men of 1866 did not even perceive the need for analysis.

Fairman, Does the Fourteenth Amendment Incorporate the Bill of Rights?, 2 Stan.L.Rev. 5, 9 (1949).

^ . See, e.g., Globe 599 (Sen. Trumbull); Globe 1117 (Cong. Wilson of Iowa, quoting Kent's Commentaries and Bouvier's Law Dictionary); Globe 1152 (Cong. Thayer). There were some, however, who considered the distinction either nonexistent or too uncertain to be a basis for legislation. E.g., Globe 477 (Sen. Saulsbury); Globe 1157 (Cong. Thornton); Globe 1292-1293 (Cong. Bingham).

It hardly seems necessary to point out that the jurisprudential concept of "political," as opposed to "civil" or "natural," rights bears no relation to that class of nonjusticiable issues perhaps inappropriately known as "political questions." See the opinion of MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, ante at 137-140.

^ . See generally Fairman, Does the Fourteenth Amendment Incorporate the Bill of Rights?, 2 Stan.L.Rev. 5 (1949), especially at 9.

^ . The remarks of these three Democrats, Niblack, Boyer, and Rogers, are discussed infra at 182-185. Also discussed there are the remarks of a fourth Democratic Representative, Phelps, which were delivered before the start of debate on the proposed Fourteenth Amendment.

^ . While this provision might seem useless in light of the Fifteenth Amendment, it was doubtless intended to prohibit the imposition of property or literacy qualifications which, even though fairly applied, would have the effect of disfranchising most of the Negroes. The Radicals had sought to prohibit such qualifications in the Fifteenth Amendment, but were unsuccessful. See Gillette 53, 56-62, 69-72, 76.

^ . While the history indicates that the supporters of the Fourteenth Amendment would have been surprised at the suggestion that the Amendment brought qualifications for state office under federal supervision, office-holding was not the focus of attention during the consideration of the Amendment. Moreover, state power to set voter qualifications, unlike state power to set qualifications for office, is explicitly recognized not only in the original Constitution but in § 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment itself. Whether these distinctions are sufficient to justify testing state qualifications for office by the Fourteenth Amendment is a matter not presented by these cases.

Where the state action has a racial basis, see Anderson v. Martin, 375 U.S. 399 (1964), I am not prepared to assume that the Fifteenth Amendment provides no protection. Despite the statement in the opinion of MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, MR. JUSTICE WHITE, and MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL, post at 252, I would find it surprising if a State could undercut the right to vote by taking steps to ensure that all candidates are unpalatable to voters of a certain race. Although an explicit provision on office-holding was deleted from the proposed Fifteenth Amendment at the eleventh hour, the idea that the right to vote without more implies the right to be voted for was specifically referred to by supporters of the Fifteenth Amendment in both Houses of Congress. See Cong.Globe, 40th Cong., 3d Sess., 1421426 (1869) (Cong. Boutwell); id. at 1426 (Cong. Butler); id. at 1629 (Sen. Sawyer).

^ . Hearings, supra, n. 8, at 128-129.

^ . See, e.g., Globe 141-142 (Cong. Blaine); Globe 2766-2767 (Sen. Howard); Globe 2769-2770 (Sens. Wade and Wilson); Globe 3033 (Sen. Henderson).

^ . The Journal is reprinted in Kendrick, supra, n. 3, at 37-129.

^ . The attempts were not altogether successful. See James 108-109.

^ . See generally Kendrick 18-22. For reasons to be developed below, infra at 197, the report of the Joint Committee, H.R.Rep. No. 30, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. (1866), is less useful as an indication of the understanding of the Committee and the Congress than as an indication of the understanding of the ratifying States.

^ . Owen's account of the Fourteenth Amendment is given in Political Results from the Varioloid, 35 Atlantic Monthly 660 (June 1875).

^ . See James 109-112; Gillette 24; Owen, supra, n. 25, at 666.

^ . See the votes on Stevens' motion to select the alternative which reduced representation, rather than that which prohibited racial restrictions on the ballot, Kendrick 52; Boutwell's motion to condition readmission of Tennessee on that State's agreement not to discriminate in its voter qualifications, Kendrick 70; Stevens' motion to strike out the provision of the Owen plan enfranchising Negroes after 1876, Kendrick 101; and the motion to condition readmission of Tennessee and Arkansas on their having provided impartial male suffrage, as well as on conforming their laws and constitutions to the requirements of the proposed amendment (which included Bingham's provision when this motion was made), Kendrick 109.

Bingham was not, however, wholly opposed to Negro suffrage. As chairman of the subcommittee, he reported the equal rights provision which would have empowered Congress to provide for equal political rights and privileges, Kendrick 56, although he was the one who subsequently had that replaced with the first equal rights provision reported to Congress. Kendrick 61. As already noted, the substitute contained substantially identical language, but omitted reference to political rights and privileges. Bingham also voted for Owen's plan, which would have enfranchised Negroes in 1876, when it was first presented. Kendrick 85. In February, 1867, he moved to condition readmission of the Southern States on impartial male suffrage, as well as on the States' ratifying the Fourteenth Amendment and conforming their laws thereto. Kendrick 123.

^ . While any guess as to the motives of Bingham and the other members of the committee is sheer speculation, it is not necessarily true that they believed they were replacing specific language with general. The author of the original plan, for one, seems to have taken the opposite view. He gave the following characterization of § 1 some years later:

A declaration who is a citizen: unnecessary, if we had given suffrage to the negro; since there could be no possible doubt that an elector, native-born, is a citizen of the United States. Also a specification of the particular civil rights to be assured: out of place, I think, in a constitutional amendment, though necessary and proper in a civil rights bill.

Owen, supra, n. 25, at 666 (emphasis added).

^ . The proceedings of the Joint Committee are examined in greater detail in the opinion of MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, MR. JUSTICE WHITE, and MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL. Post at 257-263. I agree with their apparent conclusion that the Journal sheds little light on the contemporary construction of the Fourteenth Amendment. One is left to do what he can with the two facts noted at the outset of this section: that of the plans considered by the Joint Committee, all provided either for reduction of representation or for enfranchisement while none provided for both at the same time; and that the Committee consistently rejected provisions to enfranchise the freedmen, with the conceivable exception of a plan which was defeated in the House largely because of the scope of the powers it transferred from the States to the Federal Government.

^ . Unless, of course, one adopts a "conspiracy theory" of the history of the Fourteenth Amendment. Thus, far no one has (quite) done so in this context.

^ .

I regret more than I shall be able to tell this House that we have not found the situatiou [sic] of affairs in this country such, and the public virtue such, that we might come out on the plain, unanswerable proposition that every adult intelligent citizen of the United States, unconvicted of crime, shall enjoy the right of suffrage.

Globe 2462.

^ .

I shall, Mr. Speaker, vote for this amendment not because I approve it. Could I have controlled the report of the committee of fifteen, it would have proposed to give the right of suffrage to every loyal man in the country.

Globe 2469.

So far as I am individually concerned, I object to the amendment as a whole, because it does not go far enough and propose to at once enfranchise every loyal man in the country.


^ .

The proposition in the matter of suffrage falls short of what I desire, but, so far as it goes, it tends to the equalization of the inequality at present existing; and while I demand and shall continue to demand the franchise for all loyal male citizens of this country — and I cannot but admit the possibility that ultimately those eleven States may be restored to representative power without the right of franchise being conferred upon the colored people — I should feel myself doubly humiliated and disgraced, and criminal even, if I hesitated to do what I can for a proposition which equalizes representation.

Globe 2508.

^ .

The second section, Mr. Speaker, is, in my judgment, as nearly correct as it can be without being fully, in full measure, right. But one thing is right, and that is secured by the amendment. Manifestly no State should have its basis of national representation enlarged by reason of a portion of citizens within its borders to which the elective franchise is denied. If political power shall be lost because of such denial, not imposed because of participation in rebellion or other crime, it is to be hoped that political interests may work in the line of justice, and that the end will be the impartial enfranchisement of all citizens not disqualified by crime. Whether that end shall be attained or not, this will be secured: that the measure of political power of any State shall be determined by that portion of its citizens which can speak and act at the polls, and shall not be enlarged because of the residence within the State of portions of its citizens denied the right of franchise. So much for the second section of the amendment. It is not all that I wish and would demand; but odious inequalities are removed by it and representation will be equalized, and the political rights of all citizens will, under its operation be, as we believe, ultimately recognized and admitted.

Globe 2511.

^ .

I did hope to see the rights of the freedmen completely established. . . . I did hope . . . that we should have the manhood and magnanimity to declare that men who have wielded the sword in defense of their country are fit to be intrusted with the ballot. But I am convinced that my expectations, hitherto fondly cherished, are doomed to some disappointment.

Globe 2537.

^ .

This is a step in the right direction; and although I should prefer to see incorporated into the Constitution a guarantee of universal suffrage, as we cannot get the required two thirds for that, I cordially support this proposition as the next best.

Globe 2540.

^ .

[If the freed slaves had been added] to the thinking, voting men of the southern States, it would be just and proper that that addition should be represented in this body. But we all know that such is not the case. In those States themselves, the late slaves do not enter into the basis of local representation. . . .
Would it not be a most unprecedented thing that, when this population are not permitted where they reside to enter into the basis of representation in their own State, we should receive it as an element of representation here. . . .

Globe 2464.

^ .

The second proposition is, in short, to limit the representation of the several States as those States themselves shall limit suffrage. . . .
. . . And why not? If the negroes of the South are not to be counted as a political element in the government of the South in the States, why should they be counted as a political element in the government of the country in the Union? If they are not to be counted as against the southern people themselves, why should they be counted as against us?

Globe 2498

^ . H.R. 51

deprived [the southern States] of all inducement for [the] gradual admission [of the freedmen] to the right of suffrage, inasmuch as it exacted universal suffrage as the only condition upon which they should be counted in the basis of representation at all. . . . I voted against a proposition which seemed to me so unjust and so injurious, not only to the whites of the southern States, but to the colored race itself. Well, sir, that amendment was rejected in the Senate, and the proposition, as embodied in the committee's report, comes before us in a very different form. It is now proposed to base representation upon suffrage, upon the number of voters, instead of upon the aggregate population in every State of the Union. And as I believe that to be essentially just, and likely to remedy the unequal representation of which complaint is so justly made, I shall give it my vote.

Globe 2502.

Later, in discussion of § 3, which at that time would have disfranchised certain rebels in federal elections, Raymond remarked that the effect would be to allow

one fifth, one eighth, or one tenth, as the case may be, of the people of these southern States to elect members from those States, to hold seats upon this floor.

Ibid. It is obvious that the possibility of Negroes' voting in these elections did not cross his mind.

^ .

But this House is not prepared to enfranchise all men; the nation, perhaps, is not prepared for it to-day; the colored race are not prepared for it, probably, and I am sure the rebels are unfit for it; and as Congress has not the moral courage to vote for it, then put in this provision which cuts off the traitor from all political power in the nation, and then we have secured to the loyal men that control which they so richly deserve.

Globe 2505.

^ .

This amendment will settle the complication in regard to suffrage and representation, leaving each State to regulate that for itself, so that it will be for it to decide whether or not it shall have a representation for all its male citizens not less than twenty-one years of age.

Globe 2510.

^ .

I have no doubt that the Government of the United States has full power to extend the elective franchise to the colored population of the insurgent States. I mean authority; I said power. I have no doubt that the Government of the United States has authority to do this under the Constitution, but I do not think they have the power. The distinction I make between authority and power is this: we have, in the nature of our Government, the right to do it, but the public opinion of the country is such at this precise moment as to make it impossible we should do it. It was therefore most wise on the part of the committee on reconstruction to waive this matter in deference to public opinion.

Globe 2532.

^ .

If South Carolina persists in withholding the ballot from the colored man, then let her take the alternative we offer, of confining her to the white basis of representation. . . .

Globe 2535.

^ . Spalding's speeches are given at Globe 2509-2510. His only remarks addressed to §§ 1 and 2 read:

As to the first measure proposed, a person may read it five hundred years hence without gathering from it any idea that this rebellion ever existed. The same may be said of the second proposition, for it only proposes that, the bondsmen being made free, the apportionment of Representatives in Congress shall be based upon the whole number of persons who exercise the elective franchise, instead of the population.

Globe 2509.

A month later, in the debate over the Amendment when it had returned from the Senate, Spalding expressed his views more clearly:

I say, as an individual, that I would more cheerfully give my vote if that provision allowed all men of proper age whom we have made free to join in the exercise of the right of suffrage in this country. But if I cannot obtain all that I wish, I will go heartily to secure all we can obtain.

Globe 3146.

^ . Longyear's speech is published at Globe 2536-2537. He did not in terms address himself to any section except the third. However, it is not difficult to read his statement that the proposals of the Joint Committee disappointed "the expectations of the people" and his personal hopes as having reference to the absence of any provision on suffrage.

^ . Shellabarger spoke only briefly, and this in connection with the disfranchising section. In the course of his remarks, he expressed the view that congressional power to regulate voter qualifications in federal elections was granted by Art. I, § 4. Globe 2512.

^ .

Why is it that the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. STEVENS] gives up universal suffrage? Why is it that he and other gentlemen give up universal confiscation? Why is it that other gentlemen give up universal butchery of that people? It is a compromise of what they call principle for the purpose of saving their party in the next fall election.

Globe 2506.

^ .

Gentlemen here admit that they desire [federal control over suffrage], but that the weak-kneed of their party are not equal to the issue. Your purpose is the same, and, but for that timidity, you would now ingraft negro suffrage upon our Constitution and force it on the entire people of this Union.

Globe 2530.

^ .

While this [second] section admits the right of the States thus to exclude negroes from voting, it says to them, if you do so exclude them, they shall also be excluded from all representation; and you shall suffer the penalty by loss of representation.

Globe 3145.

^ . Boyer's speech was made in opposition to a proposal to enfranchise Negroes in the District of Columbia. He then thought Negro suffrage a "monstrous proposition," Globe 176, which was incompatible with "the broad general principle that this is, and of right ought to be, a white man's Government." Globe 175. One of Rogers' harangues on the subject came in connection with the same bill. There he spoke of "the monstrous doctrine of political equality of the negro race with the white at the ballot-box," Globe 198, and launched into an attack remarkable for its vitriol.

^ . Boyer viewed § 3, which at that time would have prohibited voluntary participants in the rebellion from voting in federal elections, as "the most objectionable of all the parts," Globe 2467, as it would disfranchise nine-tenths of the voting population of the South for more than four years. The second section he found objectionable as designed

to reduce the number of southern representatives in Congress and in the Electoral College; and also to operate as a standing inducement to negro suffrage.

Globe 2467. These remarks indicate no awareness that the first section would increase the number of voters in the Southern States and also render any "inducement" to Negro suffrage unnecessary.

Rogers later in his speech asserted:

The committee dare not submit the broad proposition to the people of the United States of negro suffrage. They dare not today pass the negro suffrage bill which passed this House in the Senate of the United States, because, as I have heard one honorable and leading man on the Republican side of the House say, it would sink into oblivion the party that would advocate before the American people the equal right of the negro with the white man to suffrage.

Globe 2538.

When H.R. 127 was returned by the Senate with amendments, Rogers addressed the House and stated that, when the records of the Joint Committee were made public, it would be revealed that the Committee at first agreed to recommend universal Negro suffrage, but reconsidered because of the force of public opinion. Globe App. 230. Rogers was himself a member of the Joint Committee, and he presumably was referring to the acceptance and then rejection of Owen's plan for enfranchisement in 1876.

^ . The Amendment, however, had been released to the press on April 28. James 115.

^ . It is not amiss to point out that, whatever force Phelps' and Rogers' interpretations may have in the face of the contrary authority, even they foresaw no danger from the Equal Protection Clause as a source of federal power over the suffrage.

^ . Like my colleagues, post at 264, I find it difficult to understand what Bingham meant when he said that

the exercise of the elective franchise, though it be one of the privileges of a citizen of the Republic, is exclusively under the control of the States.

Globe 2542. However, I do not find this mysterious sentence to mean that the exercise of the elective franchise is exclusively under the control of the States and Congress, nor do I find it to dilute the force of his explicit statements quoted above that § 1 did not reach the right to vote. The general statements by Bingham and Stevens to the effect that the Amendment was designed to achieve equality before the law, or would be effectuated by legislation in part, likewise do not weaken the force of the statements specifically addressed to the suffrage question quoted above.

^ . Fessenden, however, was present in the Senate and participated in the discussion. See Globe 2763, 2769, 2770. He was therefore in a position to correct any gross misinterpretation of his views or of those of the Committee.

^ . My colleagues, post at 264, point to Howard's reference to Corfield v. Coryell, 6 Fed.Cas. 546 (No. 3230) (CCED Pa. 1825), in order to "gather some intimation of what probably will be the opinion of the judiciary" on the scope of the Privileges and Immunities Clause of § 1. Globe 2765. As the text indicates, Howard rejected Justice Washington's lengthy dictum insofar as it said that the protected privileges and immunities included "the elective franchise, as regulated and established by the laws or constitution of the State in which it is to be exercised." No other Senator quoted or referred to this portion of Washington's opinion during the debates over the proposed Fourteenth Amendment. Corfield, which held that New Jersey could constitutionally restrict access to her oyster beds to her own residents, was the leading authority on privileges and immunities in the mind of the 39th Congress, but it was not the only one. Campbell v. Morris, 3 H. & McH. 535 (Md. 1797) (Samuel Chase, J.), and Abbot v. Bayley, 6 Pick. 89 (Mass. 1827) (Parker, C.J.), were also cited. See Fairman, Does the Fourteenth Amendment Incorporate the Bill of Rights?, 2 Stan.L.Rev. 5, 12-15 (1949). Both specifically stated that the privileges and immunities protected by Art. IV, § 2, did not include the right of suffrage or the right to hold office.

^ . Howard was a very clear-spoken man. When it was suggested, during the debates over the Fifteenth Amendment, that the freedmen were entitled to the ballot by virtue of the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, he recalled his role in the framing of that Amendment and said:

I feel constrained to say here now that this is the first time it ever occurred to me that the right to vote was to be derived from the fourteenth article. I think such a construction cannot be maintained.

Cong.Globe, 40th Cong., 3d Sess., 1003 (1869). He then referred to the debates, § 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the fact that

[n]obody ever supposed that the right of voting or of holding office was guarantied by that second section of the fourth article of the old Constitution

to bolster his construction of § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment. Ibid.

^ .

I think our friends, the colored people of the South, should not be excluded from the right of voting, and they shall not be if my vote and the votes of a sufficient number who agree with me in Congress shall be able to carry it. I do not agree in this particular with the Senator from Michigan [Mr. Howard]. He yields to the provision in the committee's resolution on the subject reluctantly, because he does not believe three fourths of the States can be got to ratify that proposition, which is right and just in itself. My own opinion is that, if you go down to the very foundation of justice, so far from weakening yourself with the people, you will strengthen yourself immensely by it; but I know that it is not the opinion of many here, and I suppose we must accommodate ourselves to the will of majorities, and if we cannot do all we would, do all we can. I propose for myself to contend for all I can get in the right direction, and finally to go with those who will give us anything that is beneficial.

Globe 2769.

^ .

I should be much better satisfied if the right of suffrage had been given at once to the more intelligent of ["the colored people of the South"] and such as had served in our Army. . . . Believing that this amendment probably goes as far in favor of suffrage to the negro as is practicable to accomplish now, and hoping it may in the end accomplish all I desire in this respect, I shall vote for its adoption, although I should be glad to go further.

Globe 2963-2964.

^ .

It declares that all men are entitled to life, liberty, and property, and imposes upon the Government the duty of discharging these solemn obligations, but fails to adopt the easy and direct means for the attainment of the results proposed. It refuses the aid of four million people in maintaining the Government of the people. . . . [But] it furnishes a conclusive argument in favor of universal amnesty and impartial suffrage. . . . The utter impossibility of a final solution of the difficulties by the means proposed will cause the North to clamor for suffrage.

Globe 2964.

^ .

I am sorry to have to put that clause [§ 2] into our Constitution, as I am sorry for the necessity which calls upon us to put the preceding clause into the Constitution. I wish there was no community and no State in the United States that was not prepared to say with my friend from Nevada [Mr. Stewart] that all men may be represented in the Congress of the United States and shall be represented and shall choose their own representatives. That is the better doctrine; that is the true doctrine. I would much prefer, myself, to unite with the people of the United States in saying that, hereafter, no man shall be excluded from the right to vote, than to unite with them in saying that, hereafter, some men may be excluded from the right of representation.

Globe App. 219.

^ . Henderson, who had offered a direct enfranchising provision as an alternative to the Committee's first effort in the field of representation, see Globe App. 115, stated that he now recognized that "the country is not yet prepared" to share political power with Negroes, and he supported the Committee plan. Globe 3035.

^ .

[A]lthough we do not obtain suffrage now, it is not far off, because the grasping desire of the South for office, that old desire to rule and reign over this Government and control its destinies, will at a very early day hasten the enfranchisement of the loyal blacks.

Globe 3038.

^ .

There is no reason why the white citizens of South Carolina should vote the political power of a class of people whom they say are entirely unfit to vote for themselves. If there is any portion of the people of this country who are unfit to vote for themselves, their neighbors ought not to vote for them.

Globe 2986.

There was no indication that Sherman considered South Carolina's disqualification on racial grounds any more improper than Massachusetts' limitations of the franchise to men, which he mentioned in the next breath.

^ . If you think the negro ought to have the right of voting; if you are in favor of it, and intend it shall be given, why do you not in plain words confer it upon them? It is much fairer than to seek it by indirection, and the people will distinctly understand you when you propose such a change of the Constitution.

Globe 2939.

^ . What is to be the operation of this amendment? Just this: your whip is held over Pennsylvania, and you say to her that she must either allow her negroes to vote or have one member of Congress less.

Globe 2987.

^ .

[The second section's] true meaning was intended to be difficult to be reached, but, when understood, it is a measure which shrinks from the responsibility of openly forcing negro suffrage upon the late slave States, but attempts by a great penalty to coerce them to accept it.

Globe App. 240.

^ .

It says that each of the southern States, and, of course, each other State in the Union, has a right to regulate for itself the franchise, and that consequently, as far as the Government of the United States is concerned, if the black man is not permitted the right to the franchise, it will be a wrong (if a wrong) which the Government of the United States will be impotent to redress.

Globe 3027. Johnson was the only Democratic Senator on the Joint Committee.

^ .

With [the rebel States'] enlarged basis of representation, and exclusion of the loyal men of color from the ballot box, I see no hope of safety unless in the prescription of proper enabling acts, which shall do justice to the freedmen and enjoin enfranchisement as a condition precedent.

Globe 3148.

^ . Kelley: see Globe 2469, quoted at n. 32, supra.

Farnsworth: see Globe 2540, quoted at n. 36, supra.

Eliot: see Globe 2511, quoted at n. 34, supra.

Higby: see Globe 3978 (debate over readmission of Tennessee despite all-white electorate).

Bingham: see Globe 2542, quoted supra at 185; see also Globe 3979 (debate over readmission of Tennessee).

Stevens: see Globe 2459-2460, quoted supra at 175-177; Globe 3148, quoted at n. 69, supra.

Raymond: see Globe 2502, quoted at n. 39, supra.

Ashley: see Globe 2882.

Sumner: see n. 71, infra.

Fessenden: see H.R.Rep. No. 30, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., XIII-XIV (1866), quoted infra at 197-198.

Yates: see Globe 3038, quoted at n. 63, supra.

Stewart: see Globe 2964, quoted at n. 60, supra.

Wade: see Globe 2769, quoted at n. 58, supra.

The exception is Senator Wilson of Massachusetts, who did not address himself to this issue. However, he participated in the debates, see Globe 2770, 2986-2987, and was therefore in a position to express disagreement with the interpretation uniformly offered in the Senate.

Secondary reliance is placed on Shellabarger, Cook, Boutwell, Julian, and Lawrence of Ohio. These Representatives, with the exception of Boutwell, see n. 33, supra, did not participate significantly in the debates over the Fourteenth Amendment. The substance of their earlier remarks is that Congress had some power, usually by way of the Guarantee Clause, see n. 6, supra, to oversee state voter qualifications. Shellabarger also relied on Art. I, § 4 see n. 46, supra; infra at 210; Julian relied on the Thirteenth Amendment; and Boutwell looked to the Declaration of Independence. The relevance of these views to the scope of § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment is not apparent.

^ . Stevens: see Globe 2459-2460, quoted supra at 175-177; Globe 3148, quoted at n. 69, supra; James 163 (campaign speech in fall of 1866).

Boutwell: see Globe 2508, quoted at n. 33, supra; Globe 3976 (debate over readmission of Tennessee).

Sumner did not actually participate in the debates on H.R. 127. However, after the caucus of Republican Senators had agreed on the form of the Amendment, Sumner gave notice that he intended to move to amend the bill accompanying the proposed Amendment. This bill, S. 292, provided that any Confederate State might be readmitted to representation in Congress once the proposed Amendment had become part of the Constitution and the particular State should have ratified it and modified its constitution and laws in conformity therewith. The bill is reprinted in H.R.Rep. No. 30, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., V-VI, and in Kendrick 117-119. Sumner's amendment would have provided that a State might be readmitted when it should have ratified the Fourteenth Amendment and modified its constitution and laws in conformity therewith

and shall have further provided that there shall be no denial of the elective franchise to citizens of the United States because of race or color, and that all persons shall be equal before the law.

Globe 2869 (emphasis added).

Sumner also referred to Negro suffrage as unfinished business in speeches that fall. James 173, 178.

^ . For citations to the state materials, see Fairman, Does the Fourteenth Amendment Incorporate the Bill of Rights?, 2 Stan.L.Rev. 5, 84-132 (1949).

^ . Fear that the Amendment would reach voting was expressed in Brevier Legis.Rep. [Indiana] 45-46, 80, 88-89 (1867); Tenn.H.R.J. 38 (Extra Sess. 1866); Fla.S.J. 102 (1866); N.C.S.J. 96-97 (1866-1867); S.C.H.R.J. 34 (1866); and Tex.S.J. 422-423 (1866). The last four States rejected the proposed Amendment. Opponents of the Amendment stated or assumed that it would not reach voting qualifications in Ark.H.R.J. 288-289 (1866); Fla.S.J. 8-9 (1866); Report of the Joint Committee on Federal Relations, Md.H.R.Doc. MM, p. 15 (Mar. 18, 1867); Mass.H.R.Doc. No. 149, pp. 7-9, 16-17 (1867); and Wis.S.J. 102-103 (1867). Fla.H.R.J. 76-78 (1866); Ind.H.R.J. 102-103 (1867); and N.H.S.J. 71-72 (1866) are equivocal.

^ .

Are not all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction rightfully citizens of the United States and of each State, and justly entitled to all the political and civil rights citizenship confers? and should any State possess the power to divest them of these great rights except for treason or other infamous crime?

Ill.H.R.J. 40 (1867).

^ . Ind.H.R.J. 47-48 (1867); Kan.S.J. 45 (1867); Maine S.J. 23 (1867); Mass.H.R.Doc. No. 149, pp. 25-26 (1867); Nev.S.J. App. 9 (1867); Vt.S.J. 28 (1866); W.Va.S.J.19 (1867); Wis.Assembly J. 33 (1867).

^ .l H.R.Rep. No. 30, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., XIII-XIV (1866).

^ . I have found references to only two such speeches, one by Senator Hendricks and the other by one George M. Morgan, a candidate for Congress in Ohio. Cincinnati Daily Commercial, Aug. 9, 1866, p. 1, col. 4, quoted in Fairman, supra, n. 14, at 72; Cincinnati Daily Commercial, Aug. 23, 1866, p. 2, col. 3, quoted in Fairman, supra, at 75.

^ . See Gillette, supra, n. 3, at 227.

^ . Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 589 (1964) (dissenting opinion).

^ . Art. IV, § 4. See n. 6, supra, for the text.

^ . The contention that Congress has power to override state judgments as to qualifications for voting in federal elections is discussed infra at 209-212.

^ . Amdt. XV:

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amdt. XIX:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amdt. XXIV:

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

"Sec. 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

^ . See, e.g., Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663, 670 (1966):

Our conclusion, like that in Reynolds v. Sims, [377 U.S. 533 (1964),] is founded not on what we think governmental policy should be, but on what the Equal Protection Clause requires.

^ . Most of the cases in which this Court has used the Equal Protection Clause to strike down state voter qualifications have been decided since 1965. Eight such cases have been decided by opinion. Carrington v. Rash, 380 U.S. 89 (1965); Louisiana v. United States, 380 U.S. 145 (1965); Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663 (1966); Katzenbach v. Morgan, 384 U.S. 641 (1966); Kramer v. Union School District, 395 U.S. 621 (1969); Cipriano v. City of Houma, 395 U.S. 701 (1969); Evans v. Cornman, 398 U.S. 419 (1970); Phoenix v. Kolodziejski, 399 U.S. 204 (1970). Other cases have been summarily disposed of. In none of these cases did the Court advert to the argument based on the historical understanding.

Before 1965, although this Court had occasionally entertained on the merits challenges to state voter qualifications under the Equal Protection Clause, only two cases had sustained the challenges. Nixon v. Herndon, 273 U.S. 536 (1927), held that a Texas statute limiting participation in the Democratic Party primary to whites violated the Fourteenth Amendment. Nixon v. Condon, 286 U.S. 73 (1932), held that Texas did not avoid the reach of the Herndon decision by transferring to the party's executive committee the power to set qualifications for participation in the primary. In neither of the Nixon cases was the history of the Fourteenth Amendment suggested to the Court. Both cases were argued on the assumption that racial prohibitions on voting in state general elections would violate the Fourteenth, as well as the Fifteenth, Amendment. This potential line of decisions proved abortive when United States v. Classic, 313 U.S. 299 (1941), laid the groundwork for holding that participation in party primaries was included within the "right . . . to vote" protected by the Fifteenth Amendment. See Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 614 n. 72 (1964) (dissenting opinion). The Nixon opinions were not relied on by the Court in the subsequent white primary cases, Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649 (1944), and Terry v. Adams, 345 U.S. 461 (1953), and they were not even referred to in the recent cases on voter qualifications cited above.

^ . In this particular instance the other two branches of the Government have, in fact, expressed conflicting views as to the validity of Title III of the Act, the voting age provision. See H.R.Doc. No. 91-326 (1970).

^ . In fact, however, I do not understand how the doctrine of deference to rational constitutional interpretation by Congress, espoused by the majority in Katzenbach v. Morgan, 384 U.S. 641 (1966), is consistent with this statement of Chief Justice Marshall or with our reaffirmation of it in Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1, 18 (1958):

[Marbury] declared the basic principle that the federal judiciary is supreme in the exposition of the law of the Constitution, and that principle has ever since been respected by this Court and the Country as a permanent and indispensable feature of our constitutional system.

^ . Contrast Metropolitan Cas. Ins. Co. v. Brownell, 294 U.S. 580 (1935), relied on by my colleagues. In that case, the crucial factual issue, on which the record was silent, was whether casualty insurance companies not incorporated in Indiana "generally keep their funds and maintain their business offices, and their agencies for the settlement of claims, outside the state." 294 U.S. at 585.

^ . It might well be asked why this standard is not equally applicable to the congressional expansion of the franchise before us. Lowering of voter qualifications dilutes the voting power of those who could meet the higher standard, and it has been held that

the right of suffrage can be denied by a debasement or dilution of the weight of a citizen's vote just as effectively as by wholly prohibiting the free exercise of the franchise.

Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 555 (1964) (footnote omitted). Interference with state control over qualifications for voting in presidential elections in order to encourage interstate migration appears particularly vulnerable to analysis in terms of compelling federal interests.

^ . Although MR. JUSTICE BLACK rests his decision in part on the assumption that the selection of presidential electors is a "federal" election, the Court held in In re Green, 134 U.S. 377, 379 (1890), and repeated in Ray v. Blair, 343 U.S. 214, 224-225 (1952), that presidential electors act by authority of the States and are not federal officials.

^ . At the time these suits were filed only two of the 50 States, Georgia and Kentucky, allowed 18-year-olds to vote, and only two other States, Hawaii and Alaska, set the voting age below 21. In subsequent referenda, voters in 10 States declined to lower the voting age; five States lowered the voting age to 19 or 20; and Alaska lowered the age from 19 to 18. See the Washington Post, Nov. 5, 1970, p. A13, col. 5.

^ . "The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States."

^ . At the time the Constitution was adopted, additional restrictions based on payment of taxes and ownership of property, as well as creed and sex, were imposed, making the proposition even clearer.

^ . See Art. II:

Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.

^ . The legislative history of the Voting Rights Act Amendments contains sufficient evidence to this effect, if any be needed.

^ . Cf. § 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 79 Stat. 438, which suspended literacy tests only in areas falling within a coverage formula and allowed reinstatement of the tests upon judicial determination that, during the preceding five years no tests had been used with discriminatory purpose or effect. 42 U.S.C. § 1973b(a) (1964 ed., Supp. V), amended by Pub.L. No. 91-285 § 3, 84 Stat. 315.

^ . I assume that reasonableness is the applicable standard, notwithstanding the fact that the instant legislation is challenged on the ground that it improperly dilutes the votes of literate Arizona citizens. But see Kramer v. Union School District, 395 U.S. 621 (1969); n. 88, supra.