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We feel no hesitation in
confining these expressions to those privileges and
immunities which are in their nature fundamental; which
belong of right to the citizens of all free governments; and
which have at all times been enjoyed by the citizens of the
several States which compose this Union, from the time of
their becoming free, independent, and sovereign. What these
fundamental principles are would, perhaps, be more tedious
than difficult to enumerate. They may, however, be all
comprehended under the following general heads: Protection
by the Government; the enjoyment of life and liberty, with
the right to acquire and possess property of every kind, and
to pursue and obtain happiness and safety, subject,
nevertheless, to such restraints as the Government may
justly prescribe for the general good of the whole; the
right of a citizen of one State to pass through or to reside
in any other State, for the purpose of trade, agriculture,
professional pursuits, or otherwise; to claim the benefit of
the writ of _habeas corpus_; to institute and maintain
actions of any kind in the courts of the State; to take,
hold, and dispose of property, either real or personal; and
an exemption from higher taxes or impositions than are paid
by the other citizens of the State, may be mentioned as some
of the particular privileges and immunities of citizens
which are clearly embraced by the general description of
privileges deemed to be fundamental; to which may be added
the elective franchise, as regulated and established by the
laws or Constitution of the State in which it is to be
exercised.... But we can not accede to the proposition which
was insisted on by the counsel, that under this provision of
the Constitution, sec. 2, art. 4, the citizens of the
several States are permitted to participate in all the
rights which belong exclusively to the citizens of any other
particular State.

The learned Justice Story declared that the intention of the
clause--"the citizens of each State shall be entitled, to all the
privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States"--was
to confer on the citizens of each State a general citizenship,
and communicated all the privileges and immunities which a
citizen of the same State would be entitled to under the
circumstances. (Story on the Constitution, vol. 2, p. 605).

In the case of the Bank of the United States _vs._ Primrose, in
the Supreme Court of the United States, Mr. Webster said:

That this article in the Constitution (art. 4, sec. 2) does
not confer on the citizens of each State political rights in
every other State, is admitted. A citizen of Pennsylvania
can not go into Virginia and vote at any election in that
State, though when he has acquired a residence in Virginia,
and is otherwise qualified, is required by the Constitution
(of Virginia), he becomes, without formal adoption as a
citizen of Virginia, a citizen of that State politically.
(Webster's Works, vol. 6, p. 112).

It must be obvious that Mr. Webster was of opinion that the
privileges and immunities of citizens, guaranteed to them in the
several States, did not include the privilege of the elective
franchise otherwise than as secured by the State Constitution.
For, after making the statement above quoted, that a citizen of
Pennsylvania can not go into Virginia and vote, Mr. Webster adds,
"but for the purposes of trade, commerce, buying and selling, it
is evidently not in the power of any State to impose any
hindrance or embarrassment, etc. upon citizens of other States,
or to place them, going there, upon a different footing from her
own citizens." (Ib.) The proposition is clear that no citizen of
the United States can rightfully vote in any State of this Union
who has not the qualifications required by the Constitution of
the State in which the right is claimed to be exercised, except
as to such conditions in the constitutions of such States as deny
the right to vote to citizens resident therein "on account of
race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

The adoption of the XV. Amendment to the Constitution imposing
these three limitations upon the power of the several States, was
by necessary implication, a declaration that the States had the
power to regulate by a uniform rule the conditions upon which the
elective franchise should be exercised by citizens of the United
States resident therein. The limitations specified in the XV.
Amendment exclude the conclusion that a State of this Union,
having a government republican in form, may not prescribe
conditions upon which alone citizens may vote other than those
prohibited. It can hardly be said that a State law which excludes
from voting women citizens, minor citizens, and non-resident
citizens of the United States, on account of sex, minority, or
domicil, is a denial of the right to vote on account of race,
color, or previous condition of servitude.

It may be further added that the 2d section of the XIV.
Amendment, by the provision that "when the right to vote at any
election for the choice of electors of President and
Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress,
or executive and judicial officers of the State, or the members
of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male
inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, a
citizen of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for
participation in rebellion or other crime, the basis of
representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which
the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number
of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State," implies
that the several States may restrict the elective franchise as to
other than male citizens. In disposing of this question effect
must be given, if possible, to every provision of the
Constitution. Article 1, section 2, of the Constitution provides:

That the House of Representatives shall be composed of
members chosen every second year by the people of the
several States, and the electors in each State shall have
the qualifications requisite for electors of the most
numerous branch of the State Legislature.

This provision has always been construed to vest in the several
States the exclusive right to prescribe the qualifications of
electors for the most numerous branch of the State Legislature,
and therefore for Members of Congress. And this interpretation is
supported by section 4, article 1, of the Constitution, which
provides:

That the time, places, and manner of holding elections for
Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each
State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at
any time by law make or alter such regulations except as to
the place of choosing Senators.

Now it is submitted, if it had been intended that Congress should
prescribe the qualifications of electors, that the grant would
have read: The Congress may at any time by law make or alter such
regulations, and also prescribe the qualifications of electors,
etc. The power, on the contrary, is limited exclusively to the
time, place, and manner, and does not extend to the
qualification of the electors. This power to prescribe the
qualification of electors in the several States has always been
exercised, and is, to-day, by the several States of the Union;
and we apprehend, until the Constitution shall be changed, will
continue to be so exercised, subject only to express limitations
imposed by the Constitution upon the several States, before
noticed. We are of opinion, therefore, that it is not competent
for the Congress of the United States to establish by law the
right to vote without regard to sex in the several States of this
Union, without the consent of the people of such States, and
against their constitutions and laws; and that such legislation
would be, in our judgment, a violation of the Constitution of the
United States, and of the rights reserved to the States
respectively by the Constitution. It is undoubtedly the right of
the people of the several States so to reform their constitutions
and laws as to secure the equal exercise of the right of suffrage
at all elections held therein under the Constitution of the
United States, to all citizens, without regard to sex; and as
public opinion creates constitutions and governments in the
several States, it is not to be doubted that whenever, in any
State, the people are of opinion that such a reform is advisable,
it will be made.

If however, as is claimed in the memorial referred to, the right
to vote "is vested by the Constitution in the citizens of the
United States without regard to sex," that right can be
established in the courts without further legislation.

The suggestion is made that Congress, by a mere declaratory act,
shall say that the construction claimed in the memorial is the
true construction of the Constitution, or in other words, that by
the Constitution of the United States the right to vote is vested
in citizens of the United States "without regard to sex,"
anything in the constitution and laws of any State to the
contrary notwithstanding.



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