• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court clearly declared the white primary unconstitutional.

Beginning in 1889, the Jaybird Democratic Association in Texas started the practice of holding a primary election to select candidates for the Democratic Party in order to circumvent the Fifteenth Amendment. These candidates, often uncontested, usually were elected to office. Although white voters could participate in this process, black voters were excluded. The Supreme Court, by a vote of eight to one, declared the white primaries unconstitutional. Justice Hugo L. BlackBlack, Hugo L.Terry v. Adams[Terry v. Adams] announced the decision for the 8-1 majority in this case, but there was no majority opinion. Instead, there were a series of opinions issued by various justices. Black emphasized that the government could not exclude African Americans from primaries, which were the only significant elections in most southern jurisdictions. Justice Felix Frankfurter criticized the complicity of southern election officials in excluding African Americans from the process. Justice Tom C. Clark focused on the fact that the white primary was an adjunct of the state-regulated Democratic Party. In general, eight justices believed that in some way, the white primary was a public institution in violation of the Fifteenth Amendment. Only Justice Sherman Minton dissented, finding that the white primary acted simply as an interest group.White primaries;Terry v. Adams[Terry v. Adams]

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