Lesson 20: How Has the Right to Vote Been Expanded since the Adoption of the Constitution?

Court Cases

The case summaries below were provided by Oyez and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please visit Oyez.org for more case summaries.

Harper v. Virginia (1966)

Facts of the case:
Annie E. Harper, a resident of Virginia, filed suit alleging that the state's poll tax was unconstitutional. After a three-judge district court dismissed the complaint, the case went to the Supreme Court. This case was decided together with Butts v. Harrison.

Case Question:
Did the Virginia poll tax violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Case Conclusion:
In a 6-to-3 decision, the Court held that making voter affluence an electoral standard violated the Equal Protection Clause. The Court found that wealth or fee-paying had no relation to voting qualifications. The Court also noted that the Equal Protection Clause was not "shackled to the political theory of a particular era" and that notions of what constituted equal treatment under the clause were subject to change.

The Oyez Project, Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663 (1966)

Link to case: http://oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1965/1965_48