Amdt15.S1.1.1.5 Literacy Tests

Fifteenth Amendment, Section 1:

The right of citizens 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 condition of servitude–

At an early date the Court held that literacy tests that are drafted so as to apply alike to all applicants for the voting franchise would be deemed to be fair on their face and in the absence of proof of discriminatory enforcement could not be said to deny equal protection. 1 But an Alabama constitutional amendment, the legislative history of which disclosed that both its object and its intended administration were to disenfranchise black citizens, was held to violate the Fifteenth Amendment. 2

Footnotes

  1.  Williams v. Mississippi, 170 U.S. 213 (1898); Cf. Lassiter v. Northampton County Bd. of Elections, 360 U.S. 45 (1959).
  2.  Davis v. Schnell, 81 F. Supp. 872 (M.D. Ala. 1949), aff’d, 336 U.S. 933 (1949).