• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court ruled that states could constitutionally refuse to allow women citizens the right to vote.

Virginia Minor, a feminist leader, was denied the right to register to vote in Missouri. She argued that the state’s voter registration officer, Reese Happersett, had violated her rights, which were protected by the citizenship and the privileges and immunities clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court unanimously rejected her claim. Speaking for the Court, Chief Justice Morrison R. WaiteWaite, Morrison R.;Minor v. Happersett[Minor v. Happersett] wrote that voting qualifications had always been left to the states and that historically the states had never recognized that all citizens had an inherent right to vote. The reason that the Fifteenth Amendment had been necessary, moreover, was that the Fourteenth Amendment did not guarantee a right to suffrage. “If the law is wrong,” he noted, “it ought to be changed; but the power for that is not with us.”Discrimination, sexCitizenship;Minor v. Happersett[Minor v. Happersett]Vote, right to;Minor v. Happersett[Minor v. Happersett]Discrimination, sex

The Minor precedent remained in effect until the ratification of the Nineteenth AmendmentNineteenth Amendment in 1920. In Reynolds v. Sims[case]Reynolds v. Sims[Reynolds v. Sims] (1964),[case]Reynolds v. Sims[Reynolds v. Sims] the Court tacitly abandoned Minor and interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment so that it protected an equality of voting rights.[case]Minor v. Happersett[Minor v. Happersett]

Fifteenth Amendment

Fourteenth Amendment

Gender issues

Privileges and immunities

Reynolds v. Sims

Vote, right to

Categories: History Content