Myers v. Anderson
Nos. eight, 9, 10
Argued November eleven, 1913
Decided June 21, 1915
238 U.S. 368
Guinn v. United States, ante, p. 238 U. S. 347, followed as to the impact and operation of the Fifteenth Amendment and that a country might not set up as a preferred for workout suffrage a preferred present prior to the adoption of that Amendment and which turned into rendered illegal thereby. While the Fifteenth Amendment does no longer confer the right of suffrage on any magnificence, it does prohibit the states from depriving any individual of the proper of suffrage whether or not for federal, nation, or municipal elections.
Page 238 U. S. 369
Election officers who refuse to allow character to exercising their suffrage due to a country law disqualifying them consistent with a popular made unconstitutional by the Fifteenth Amendment are chargeable for damages in a civil movement under § 1979, Rev.Stat.
Where the standards constant for citizens are several in range, however are all so interrelated that one can not be held invalid without affecting the others, the complete provision have to fail.
Where a statute setting up qualifications for exercising suffrage is unconstitutional, it does no longer deprive the citizens of the right to vote, because the previously existing statute is unaffected by means of the tried adoption of 1 this is void for unconstitutionality.
The so-called Grandfather Clause in the statute of Maryland of 1908 fixing the qualifications of citizens at municipal elections in the City of Annapolis based on the proper of the citizen or his ancestor to vote at a date prior to the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment is unconstitutional because the standards then existing had been made illegal by the self-running force of the Fifteenth Amendment.
182 F. 223 affirmed.
The information, which involve the constitutionality under the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of america, of the statute of Maryland solving qualification of voters and containing what has been called the Grandfather s Clause, and the development and application of § 1979, Rev.Stat., are said in the opinion.
Page 238 U. S. 375
Nos. 8, 9, 10
ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
Guinn v. United States, ante, p. 238 U. S. 347, observed as to the impact and operation of the Fifteenth Amendment and that a state won't establish as a wellknown for exercising suffrage a preferred existing previous to the adoption of that Amendment and which turned into rendered illegal thereby. While the Fifteenth Amendment does no longer confer the proper of suffrage on any class, it does restrict the states from depriving any man or woman of the proper of suffrage whether or not for federal, kingdom, or municipal elections.
Election officials who refuse to allow individual to exercise their suffrage because of a kingdom regulation disqualifying them consistent with a general made unconstitutional with the aid of the Fifteenth Amendment are liable for damages in a civil motion below § 1979, Rev.Stat.
Where the standards constant for voters are numerous in quantity, but are all so interrelated that one can not be held invalid with out affecting the others, the whole provision must fail.
Where a statute setting up qualifications for exercise suffrage is unconstitutional, it does not deprive the citizens of the right to vote, because the previously current statute is unaffected by way of the attempted adoption of one that is void for unconstitutionality.
The so-called Grandfather Clause in the statute of Maryland of 1908 solving the qualifications of voters at municipal elections in the City of Annapolis based at the proper of the citizen or his ancestor to vote at a date prior to the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment is unconstitutional because the requirements then present were made unlawful by way of the self-running force of the Fifteenth Amendment.
The statistics, which contain the constitutionality beneath the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the USA, of the statute of Maryland solving qualification of citizens and containing what has been referred to as the Grandfather s Clause, and the construction and alertness of § 1979, Rev.Stat., are said within the opinion.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.
These instances contain some questions which were now not in the Guinn case, ante, p. 238 U. S. 347. The
Page 238 U. S. 376
basis question, however, is the equal -- this is, the operation and effect of the Fifteenth Amendment.
Prior to the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment, the privilege of suffrage turned into conferred by the Constitution of Maryland of 1867 upon "each white male citizen," but the Fifteenth Amendment, by using its self-operative pressure, obliterated the phrase "white," and prompted the qualification consequently to be "every male citizen," and this came to be identified through the Court of Appeals of the State of Maryland. Without ordinary to the established order of the City of Annapolis as a municipality in earlier days, or following the development of its authorities, it suffices to mention that, before 1877, the proper to vote for the governing municipal frame become vested in men and women entitled to vote for contributors of the General Assembly of Maryland, which wellknown, by the elimination of the phrase "white" from the Constitution via the Fifteenth Amendment embraced "every male citizen." In 1896, a standard election regulation comprising many sections changed into enacted in Maryland. Laws of 1896, c. 202, p. 327. It is enough to mention that it furnished for a board of supervisors of elections in every county to be appointed by means of the governor, and that this board changed into given the electricity to rent humans as registering officials and as judges of election for each election precinct or ward in the county. Under this regulation, every ward or balloting precinct in Annapolis became entitled to two registering officials. While the law made those modifications within the election equipment, it did now not trade the qualification of voters.
In 1908, an act become surpassed "to fix the qualifications of electorate at municipal elections inside the City of Annapolis and to provide for the registration of said electorate." Laws of 1908, c. 525, p. 347. This law authorized the appointment of three persons as registers, instead of two, in every election ward or precinct in Annapolis, and furnished for the mode in which they have to perform their duties, and conferred the proper of registration, and therefore the
Page 238 U. S. 377
proper to vote, on all male residents above the age of twenty-one years who had resided 365 days inside the municipality and had now not been convicted of crime, and who got here inside anybody of the 3 following training:
"1. All taxpayers of the City of Annapolis assessed at the city books for at least $500. 2. And duly naturalized residents. 2 half of. And male kids of naturalized residents who've reached the age of twenty-one years. 3. All citizens who, previous to January 1, 1868, had been entitled to vote in the State of Maryland or some other nation of america at a country election, and the lawful male descendants of any person who prior to January 1, 1868, became entitled to vote in this state or in every other kingdom of the United States at a nation election, and no character now not coming inside one of the 3 enumerated lessons will be registered as a legal voter of the City of Annapolis or qualified to vote at the municipal elections held therein, and any individual so duly registered shall, while so registered, be certified to vote at any municipal election held in stated city; stated registration shall in all other respects conform to the laws of the State of Maryland relating to and imparting for registration inside the State of Maryland."
The three persons who're defendants in error in these cases implemented in Annapolis to the board of registration to be registered as a prerequisite to the enjoyment of their right to vote at an election to be held in July, 1909, and that they were denied the proper by way of a vote of two out of the three individuals of the board. They consequently were unable to vote. Anderson, the defendant in mistakes in No. 8, changed into a negro citizen who possessed all the qualifications required to vote exacted through the law in existence previous to the only we've simply quoted, and who on January 1, 1868, the date fixed in the 0.33 magnificence inside the act in query, could have been entitled to vote in Maryland but for the truth that he was a negro, albeit he possessed none of the
Page 238 U. S. 378
unique qualifications enumerated by using the statute in question. Howard, the defendant in mistakes in No. 9, was a negro citizen possessing all of the qualifications to vote required earlier than the passage of the act in query, whose grandfather resided in Maryland and would had been entitled to vote on January 1, 1868, however for the fact that he turned into a negro. Brown, the defendant in blunders in No. 10, also had all the qualifications to vote underneath the regulation formerly current, and his father was a negro residing in Maryland who could were capable of vote on the date named but for the fact that he changed into a negro. The three events thereupon began these separate suits to get better damages towards the two registering officers who had refused to register them at the floor that thereby they were deprived of a right to vote secured with the aid of the Fifteenth Amendment, and that there was legal responsibility for damages below § 1979, Rev.Stat., that is as follows:
"Every individual who, under shade of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage, of any country or territory subjects or reasons to be subjected, any citizen of the US or different man or woman within the jurisdiction thereof, to the deprivation of any rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution and Laws will be at risk of the party injured in an movement at regulation, healthy in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress."
The complaints were demurred to, and it would appear that every attainable question of law susceptible of being raised was offered and considered, and the demurrers had been overruled, the grounds for so doing being stated in one opinion commonplace to the 3 cases (182 F. 223). The cases had been then attempted to the courtroom with out a jury, and to the judgments in choose of the plaintiffs which resulted these 3 separate writs of errors have been prosecuted.
The nonliability, in any occasion, of the election officers for their official conduct is critically pressed in argument, and
Page 238 U. S. 379
it is also advised that, in any occasion, there could not be liability beneath the Fifteenth Amendment for having deprived of the right to vote at a municipal election. But we do not undertake to study the issues pressed on these topics, due to the fact we think they are completely disposed of via the ruling this day made in the Guinn case and through the very terms of § 2004, Rev.Stat., whilst considered within the mild of the inherently operative pressure of the Fifteenth Amendment as stated inside the case referred to.
This brings us to remember the statute that allows you to determine whether its standards for registering and balloting are repugnant to the Fifteenth Amendment. There are three widespread criteria. We test them by beginning at the 1/3, as it's miles glaringly the most complete, and, as we will in the long run see, the keystone of the arch upon which all of the others relaxation. In coming to do so it is straight away take place that, barring some negligible modifications in phrasing, that fashionable is in all respects equal with the only just decided inside the Guinn case to be repugnant to the Fifteenth Amendment, and we bypass from its attention and technique the primary and a subdivision numbered 2 half. The first confers the rights to sign in and vote free from any distinction because of race or shade upon all taxpayers assessed for as a minimum $500. We placed all query of the constitutionality of this trendy out of view, as it incorporates no specific discrimination repugnant to the Fifteenth Amendment, and it isn't always susceptible of being assailed as a consequence of an alleged wrongful reason on the a part of the lawmaker or the mere opportunities of its future operation in exercise, and because, as there's a reason other than discrimination on account of race or colour discernible upon which the usual may additionally relaxation, there may be no room for the conclusion that it should be assumed, because of the impossibility of locating every other reason for its enactment, to relaxation by myself upon a reason to violate the Fifteenth Amendment. And as, with the intention to take away the case, as
Page 238 U. S. 380
we will see, it is not important to look at the constitutionality of the opposite standards, this is, numbers 2 and 2 half of relating to naturalized residents and their descendants, merely for the sake of argument, we assume the ones two standards, without so deciding, to be also unfastened from constitutional objection, and are available to recall the case under that speculation.
The result, then, is that this: that the third wellknown is void because it amounts to a mere denial of the operative effect of the Fifteenth Amendment, and, based totally upon that concept, proceeds to recreate and reestablish a circumstance which the Amendment prohibits and the existence of which had been previously bothered down in consequence of the self-operative pressure of its prohibitions, and the opposite requirements one by one considered are valid or are assumed to be such, and therefore aren't violative of the Fifteenth Amendment. On its face, therefore, this example might establish that the request made by using all the plaintiffs for registration turned into rightfully refused, for the reason that, even though the void fashionable be positioned entirely out of view, not one of the events had the qualifications important to entitle them to sign in and vote beneath any of the others. This calls for us, therefore, to decide whether the 2 first standards which we've got held have been valid or have assumed to be so must despite the fact that be handled as nonexisting because the important end result of the elimination of the third general due to its repugnancy to the prohibition of the Fifteenth Amendment. And by this we are added, therefore, to determine the interrelation of the provisions and the dependency of the 2 first, such as the substandard below the second, upon the 1/3; in different phrases, to decide whether or not or no longer any such solidarity existed among the requirements that the destruction of 1 necessarily leaves no possible cause for spotting the ongoing life and operative force of the others.
In the Guinn case, this situation become additionally passed upon, and
Page 238 U. S. 381
it become held that, albeit the selection of the query was, in the very nature of things, a nation one, despite the fact that, in the absence of controlling country rulings, it changed into our obligation to skip upon the problem, and that, in doing so, the overthrow of an unlawful preferred would now not supply rise to the destruction of a prison one except such result changed into pressured with the aid of one or both of the following situations: (a) in which the availability as an entire it appears that evidently and expressly mounted the dependency of the one wellknown upon the opposite, and therefore rendered it important to finish that both must disappear because the result of the destruction of either, and (b) wherein, even despite the fact that there was no explicit floor for achieving the belief simply said, however that view might result from an overwhelming implication consequent upon the situation which would be created by using holding that the disappearance of the only did now not prevent the survival of the opposite -- this is, a circumstance which could be so uncommon, so severe, so incongruous as to depart no feasible ground for the belief that the death of the only had no longer also carried with it the cessation of the existence of the other.
That both of those exceptions here obtain we suppose is apparent: first, due to the fact, looking at the context of the provision, we assume that the plain cause was not to problem to the exactions of the primary fashionable (the property qualification) any character who turned into included within the different standards, and second, because the end result of holding that the alternative requirements survived the hanging down of the 1/3 could be to bring about such an bizarre end result as could bring the case in the 2d exception, when you consider that it would come to bypass that each American-born citizen might be deprived of his proper to vote except he changed into able to observe the property qualification, and all naturalized residents and their descendants would be entitled to vote without being submitted to any assets qualification whatever. If the clauses as to naturalization were
Page 238 U. S. 382
assumed to be invalid, the incongruous result just said could, of course, not rise up, but the legal situation would be unchanged, due to the fact that that view could no longer weaken the realization as to the cohesion of the provisions of the statute, however, at the opposite, might fortify it.
But, it's miles argued, even even though this result be conceded, there though become no proper to recover, and there have to be a reversal considering that, if the whole statute fell, all the clauses imparting for suffrage fell, and no right to suffrage remained, and hence no deprivation or abridgment of the right to vote resulted. But this, in a modified form of statement, advances propositions which we've held to be unsound in the Guinn case. The qualification of voters under the Constitution of Maryland existed and the statute which formerly supplied for the registration and election in Annapolis changed into unaffected by the void provisions of the statute which we're considering. The mere exchange, in some respects, of the administrative machinery with the aid of the new statute did now not relieve the brand new officials of their duty, nor did it interpose a defend to save you the operation upon them of the provisions of the Constitution of america and the statutes passed in pursuance thereof. The conclusive impact of this view will become apparent when it's miles considered that, if the argument had been regularly occurring, it would comply with that, even though the Fifteenth Amendment by its self-operative force, without any action of the kingdom, modified the clause in the Constitution of the State of Maryland conferring suffrage upon "each white male citizen" with a purpose to motive it to read "each male citizen," though the Amendment become so supine, so with out effect, as to leave it open for the legislature to write again by statute the discriminating provision by way of an insignificant modified shape of expression into the laws of the nation, and for the state officers to make the result of such action efficiently operative.
There is a contention pressed regarding the utility
Page 238 U. S. 383
of the statute upon which the fits have been based totally to the acts in question. But we suppose, in view of the nature and individual of the acts, of the self-operative force of the Fifteenth Amendment, and of the rules of Congress at the issue, that there may be no ground for such contention.
MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS took no element in the attention and selection of these cases.
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