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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment and Voting

Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment addressed only officeholding by former Confederates, but the language of that provision was used to restrict voting rights. How so? In two ways.

1. The First Military Reconstruction Act, passed in 1867, said that anyone barred from office by Section Three was ineligible to vote in the elections for the state constitutional conventions in the ex-Confederacy or to serve in those conventions. This is remarkable in that the Fourteenth Amendment was only a proposal at that point. Yet Section Three of that proposal was used to regulate the elections for the delegates who would decide to ratify Section Three. I cannot think of any other federal legislation that used a pending constitutional amendment as a standard.

2. Four of the new state constitutions ratified in the South specifically referred to Section Three to exclude men from suffrage. Once again, I cannot think of any other part of the Federal Constitution that was ever explicitly used in a state constitution as a benchmark. Thus, when Congress granted a broad Section Three amnesty in 1872, the voting rights of many white male southerners were restored.

I think I've done enough posts on Section Three for now. Time to start writing this up in a proper article.

Posted by Gerard Magliocca on August 18, 2020 at 01:17 PM | Permalink


Here's hoping the history in the article is better than what's been on here!


Posted by: thegreatdisappointment | Aug 18, 2020 6:52:57 PM

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