147 Years Ago: 15th Amendment was ratified

Posted on 03-30-2015 by
Tags: Latest Headlines & Stories , trending news

Whether it has been 52,889 days, 1,269,330 hours or 76,159,800 minutes the time it’s been since the 15th Amendment was ratified remains a distant memory in time. It was February 3rd, 1870 when the 15th Amendment was ratified.

This amendment gave African American men the right to vote. It stated:

‘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.’

The 15th amendment has been cited in a couple court cases since its enactment in 1870. Two such cases that cited the amendment included Gomillion v. Lightfoot (1960) and Rice v. Cayetano (2000).

In Gomillion v. Lightfoot, the Supreme Court questioned whether Act 140 of the Alabama legislature violated the 15th Amendment. Act 140, which was passed in 1957, changed the boundaries of the city of Tuskegee, Alabama. The new boundaries would exclude almost all African-American voters. The court would eventually rule that the act did violate the 15th amendment.

In Rice v. Cayetano, the Supreme Court to consider whether or not the election process for Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees violated the 15th Amendment. The process required all those who voted and could run for the board of trustees to be classified as “Hawaiians” or “Native Hawaiians”. Harold F. Rice, a rancher of European descent, was denied eligibility because he was not Hawaiian despite having lived there since the mid-19th century.  The court ruled that this did violate the 15th amendment.

In each of the above cases the 15thamendment was model of society that the court wanted to mirror. If each of the incidents failed to mirror the model, then they were found to have violated the amendment.  So as this amendment turns another year old, we are reminded of the strides that this country has made over time and the timeless impact those strides have had.  

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