Twenty-Fourth Amendment

Twenty-Fourth Amendment

The Twenty-fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The Twenty-fourth Amendment was proposed on August 27, 1962, and ratified on January 23, 1964. It prohibits the federal government or the states from making voters pay a poll tax before they can vote in a national election. A poll tax, also called a head tax, is a tax collected equally from all voters. The amendment was proposed as a Civil Rights measure because southern states had used the poll tax to keep African Americans from voting.

poll taxes were commonly imposed in the United States at the time the Constitution was adopted but had fallen into disuse by the mid-nineteenth century. After the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870, the poll tax was revived in the South as a way to prevent African Americans, who were mostly poor, from voting. The poll tax also denied poor whites the right to vote. Typically, the unpaid fees would accumulate from election to election, making it more difficult for poor persons to find the economic resources to qualify for voting.

In Breedlove v. Suttles, 302 U.S. 277, 58 S. Ct. 205, 82 L. Ed. 252 (1937), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that poll taxes, by themselves, did not violate the Fourteenth or Fifteenth Amendments. Breedlove led to the introduction of the first poll tax constitutional amendment in 1939 and to efforts to abolish the poll tax through State Action. By 1960 only five southern states still had poll taxes.

The abolition of the poll tax was not a controversial issue, even at a time of fierce southern resistance to racial desegregation. The amendment was limited to federal elections, however, leaving state elections outside its scope. Following the ratification of the Twenty-fourth Amendment, the Supreme Court abandoned the Breedlove precedent. In Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663, 86 S. Ct. 1079, 16 L. Ed. 2d 169 (1966), the Court struck down poll taxes in state and local elections, ruling that such taxes violated the Fourteenth Amend-ment's Equal Protection Clause.

References in periodicals archive ?
The passage of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment by the Senate paved the way for the coming elections to be held for constituencies delimited according to the Census held this year.
It did not 'impose a material requirement solely on those who refuse[d]' to pay a poll tax, as proscribed by the Twenty-Fourth Amendment," Haynes wrote in the ruling.
Indeed, statutes like the Voting Rights Act are probably more important as a functional matter than, say, the Twenty-Fourth Amendment (which outlawed the poll tax in federal elections).
When Harper first came to the Court, Justice Goldberg argued in favor of taking the case and urged the Court to rely, in part, on the legislative history of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment in adjudicating it.
53) The same basic story can be told about the Twenty-Fourth Amendment,
As a matter of fact I distinctly recall (dimly, to be sure) an article in the (Webster) Times which well may have been written by you, yourself around the time of the passage of the Twenty-fourth Amendment in 1964, which banned the tax.
Part III explores six doctrinal bases for challenging a time tax: the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, the First Amendment, the Twenty-Fourth Amendment, and Sections 2 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
27) But the most obvious such amendments are those that extended the franchise: the Fifteenth Amendment, extending the vote to all races; (28) the Nineteenth Amendment, extending the vote to women; (29) the Twenty-Fourth Amendment, extending the vote to those who could not afford to pay a poll tax, (30) and the Twenty-Sixth Amendment, extending the vote to all those at least eighteen years old.
Virginia State Board of Elections, two years after the Twenty-Fourth Amendment had banned poll taxes in federal elections, the Court struck down a poll tax of $1.
The Twenty-fourth Amendment to the Constitution, barring the poll tax as a requirement for voting in federal elections, was approved by Congress.
Following passage of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment, which banned the tax in federal, but not state, elections, only four southern states retained it.
The Twenty-fourth Amendment, which prohibited poll taxes, likely was not dealing with a problem of enduring significance; few states still had them when the Amendment passed, and in those few they likely were on the way out.