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MYERS V. ANDERSON, 238 U. S. 368 (1915)

U.S. Supreme Court

Myers v. Anderson, 238 U.S. 368 (1915)

Myers v. Anderson

Nos. 8, 9, 10

Argued November 11, 1913

Decided June 21, 1915

238 U.S. 368


Guinn v. United States, ante, p. 238 U. S. 347, followed as to the effect and operation of the Fifteenth Amendment and that a state may not establish as a standard for exercising suffrage a standard existing prior to the adoption of that Amendment and which was rendered illegal thereby. While the Fifteenth Amendment does not confer the right of suffrage on any class, it does prohibit the states from depriving any person of the right of suffrage whether for federal, state, or municipal elections.

Page 238 U. S. 369

Election officers who refuse to allow person to exercise their suffrage because of a state law disqualifying them according to a standard made unconstitutional by the Fifteenth Amendment are liable for damages in a civil action under § 1979, Rev.Stat.

Where the standards fixed for voters are several in number, but are all so interrelated that one cannot be held invalid without affecting the others, the entire provision must fail.

Where a statute establishing qualifications for exercising suffrage is unconstitutional, it does not deprive the citizens of the right to vote, as the previously existing statute is unaffected by the attempted adoption of one that is void for unconstitutionality.

The so-called Grandfather Clause in the statute of Maryland of 1908 fixing the qualifications of voters at municipal elections in the City of Annapolis based on the right 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 have been made illegal by the self-operating force of the Fifteenth Amendment.

182 F. 223 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, of the statute of Maryland fixing qualification of voters and containing what has been known as the Grandfather's Clause, and the construction and application of § 1979, Rev.Stat., are stated in the opinion.

Page 238 U. S. 375

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