LBGAL ASPECT OF THE SOUTHERN QUEST/ON, 371
Moreover, Congress may thus interfere when a State denies to any person the equal protection of the laws. This means, so far as the right to vote is concerned, that, under color of State authority, no restrictions, not bearing equally upon all, shall be imposed upon the exercise of the suffrage which the State has bestowed.
A denial by a " State " is a denial supported by State authority in the shape of laws, customs, or judicial or executive proceed- ings; and possibly inability or neglect to protect the rights guaranteed by the Constitution amounts to a denial of them.
There can be no federal interference for any other purpose, such as to prevent fraud, intimidation, or violence by individuals.
3. Federal Elections. — Congress may interfere as in State elections, and also, under art. I., sect. 4, of the Constitution, may prevent and punish all wrongful acts, by whomsoever committed, whenever such a course can justly be said to contribute to accuracy and fairness.
Other political rights besides the right to vote may be guarded by the United States. The right to hold office is protected by statute, making it both a civil ^ and a criminal ^ offence to conspire to prevent, by force, intimidation, or threat, any person from hold- ing or discharging the duties of an office under the United States.
The fourth section of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 prohibited disqualification from jury service because of race, color, or pre- vious condition of servitude. This has been held constitutional,^ because corrective of State legislation making a discrimination obnoxious to the XlVth Amendment. The right to assemble for the purpose of petitioning Congress for redress of grievances, or for any other purpose connected with the power or the duties of the national government, is an attribute of national citizenship, and as such to be protected by the United States.* But the right to assemble merely is not within federal protection. The same is true of the right to bear arms for a lawful purpose.*
Closely connected with the subject of the security of suffrage in the South is the matter of contested elections. How can the result of an election which has been conducted in defiance of the law- be impeached ^
��1 RcT. St. 1980. • RcT. St. 5518, » Ex parte Virginia, 100 U. S. 339.
- United States v. Cruikshank, 2 Otto, 542. * lb.