THE FIFTEENTH AMENDMENT
The Fifteenth Amendment was created so that everyone has equal rights, it guarantees the right to vote without restrictions based on race, color etc. Women were not included it was created to give African American men rights that were equal to Caucasian men.
The fifteenth amendment to the U.S. constitution reads:
Section l: the right of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color or previous conditions of servitude.
Section 2: the congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The Fifteenth Amendment was ratified by the states in 1870, and it gave parliament the power to enforce such rights against governments that wanted to challenge this agreement through the enactment of appropriate legislation. The major clauses in the Fifteenth Amendment is the:
Grandfather clause; it was originally intended to prevent black people from voting, was named for provisions adopted by the constitution of some states. This clause sought to interfere with an individual’s right to vote by setting forth difficult requirements such as taxpaying, ownership of a large amount of land or the ability to read and write portions of the state and national constitution, such requirements exempted black people from voting but also excluded many whites too. The name grandfather clause came from the exceptions that were made for experts of the Civil War. If the veterans were qualified to vote before 1866, their descendants were also qualified. If a person’s grandfather could vote, then his descendants could also vote without limits. It was later ruled unconstitutional.
White primary; after the grandfather clause was ruled unconstitutional, the Southern States adopted the white primary to exclude the blacks from voting in a meaningful way. It limited the participation to whites only in primary elections. The supreme court later struck down white primary as a violation of the fifteenth amendment’s prohibition against voting discrimination based on race.
Literacy tests; although literacy tests for voting apply to both blacks and whites, they exclude more African Americans from registration because of poor education and discriminatory administration that require African American applicants to pass more difficult tests. It was later declared unconstitutional because its intentions were to deny African Americans the right to vote and thus violates the Fifteenth Amendment.
Poll tax; the southern states imposed a poll tax on anyone who wanted to vote. This tactic denied the vote to many poor African Americans and whites who couldn’t afford the tax, but later the Supreme Court ruled that use of poll tax violates the Fifteenth Amendment as they apply to all races.
A court case that defines the Fifteenth Amendment:
In the case of Guinn v. United States the grandfather clause was struck down because the clause discriminated against blacks and therefore violating the Fifteenth Amendment. The ruling required voters to pass a reading test but the law exempted all those who were permitted to vote just after the civil war ended, as well as their descendants. The law allowed those whose grandfathers were entitled to vote in 1866 to register without passing a literacy test. Uneven application of the law to African Americans became an immediate issue. The voter registration act officials interpreted that they could impose unreasonable requirements to the blacks. In that case the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and struck down the clause. Justice Edward White who was handling the case said it was an attempt to disfranchise the African Americans. Justice White wrote that the act “inherently brings” discrimination based on race “into existence since it is based purely on a period of time before the enactment of the Fifteenth Amendment and makes that period the controlling and dominant test of the right of suffrage”
Michael J. Klarman, (2004) Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the struggle for Racial Equality. Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org