[Constitution of the United States of America:  Analysis, and Interpretation - 1992 Edition ]
[Amendments to the Constitution]
[Nineteenth Amendment - Women's Suffrage Rights]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]



[[Page 1971]]

 
 
                         WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE RIGHTS

                               __________

                          NINETEENTH AMENDMENT


  Section 1. The right of the 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.
  Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by 
appropriate legislation.

                            WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE

        The Amendment was adopted after a long campaign by its advocates 
who had largely despaired of attaining their goal through modification 
of individual state laws. Agitation in behalf of women's suffrage was 
recorded as early as the Jackson Administration but the initial results 
were meager. Beginning in 1838, Kentucky authorized women to vote in 
school elections and its action was later copied by a number of other 
States. Kansas in 1887 granted women unlimited rights to vote in 
municipal elections. Not until 1869, however, when the Wyoming Territory 
accorded women suffrage rights on an equal basis with men and continued 
the practice following admission to statehood, did these advocates 
register a notable victory. Progress continued to be discouraging, only 
ten additional States having joined Wyoming by 1914, and, judicial 
efforts having failed,\1\ and a vigorous campaign brought congressional 
passage of a proposed Amendment and the necessary state 
ratifications.\2\

        \1\Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. (21 Wall.) 162 (1875), a 
challenge under the privileges of immunities clause of the Fourteenth 
Amendment.
        \2\E. Flexner, Century of Struggle--The Woman's Rights Movement 
in the United States (1959).
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        Following the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Fifteenth 
Amendment, the state courts which passed on the effect of the Amendment 
ruled that it did not confer upon women the right to vote but only the 
right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their sex in the 
setting of voting qualifications,\3\ a formalistic distinction to be 
sure but one which has restrained the possible applications of the 
Amendment. In only one case has the Supreme

[[Page 1972]]
Court itself dealt with the Amendment's effect, holding that a Georgia 
poll tax statute which exempted from payment women who did not register 
to vote did not discriminate in any manner against the right of men to 
vote, although it did note that the Amendment ``applies to men and women 
alike and by its own force supersedes inconsistent measures, whether 
federal or State.''\4\

        \3\State v. Mittle, 120 S.C. 526 (1922), writ of error 
dismissed, 260 U.S. 705 (1922); Graves v. Eubank, 205 Ala. 174 (1921); 
In re Cavelier, 287 N.Y.S. 739 (1936).
        \4\Breedlove v. Suttles, 302 U.S. 227, 283-84 (1937).