• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court voided part of the 1870 Enforcement Act, claiming that voting was a privilege, not a right.

After refusing to accept an African American’s vote, a Kentucky election official was indicted under the 1870 Enforcement Act, which enforced the voting rights provided by the Fifteenth Amendment. Justice Morrison R. WaiteWaite, Morrison R.;Reese, United States v.[Reese, United States v.] wrote the opinion for the 8-1 majority, striking down a section of the 1870 act regarding refusal to accept a vote on the grounds that the statute did not repeat the precise language of the Fifteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court affirmed that voting was a privilege, not a right, but held that if a state offered the privilege, it must not exclude voters on racial grounds. The Court upheld the enforcement act for federal elections, but by omitting state and local elections with its very narrow rulings, the Court allowed southern states to disenfranchise African Americans through poll taxes and literacy, character, and other tests.Enforcement Act of 1870Fifteenth Amendment;Reese, United States v.[Reese, United States v.]Vote, right to;Reese, United States v.[Reese, United States v.]Enforcement Act of 1870

Fifteenth Amendment

Reconstruction

Vote, right to

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