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The opinion, which was delivered by the Chief Justice,
states the matter as follows:

It is contended that the provisions of the Constitution and
laws of the State of Missouri, which confine the right of
suffrage and registration therefor to men, are in violation
of the Constitution of the United States, and therefore
void. The argument is, that as a woman, born or naturalized
in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction
thereof, is a citizen of the United States and of the State
in which she resides, she has the right of suffrage, as one
of the privileges and immunities of her citizenship, which
the State can not by its laws or Constitution abridge.

And on page 170:

If the right of suffrage is one of the necessary privileges
of a citizen of the United States, then the Constitution and
laws of Missouri confining it to men are in violation of the
Constitution of the United States, as amended, and
consequently void. The direct question is therefore
presented, whether all citizens are necessarily voters. The
Constitution does not define the privileges and immunities
of citizens. For that definition we must look elsewhere. In
this case we need not determine what they are, but only
whether suffrage is necessarily one of them. It certainly is
nowhere made so in express terms. The United States has no
voters in the State, of its own creation. The elective
officers of the United States are all elected directly or
indirectly by State voters.

We had supposed that if there was any question that now, at
least, might be regarded as finally settled, both by the late
appeal to arms, and by the Constitutional Amendments, it was that
of the subordination of State to National authority, over any and
all subjects in which the rights and privileges of citizens of
the United States are involved. If the amendments do not cover
this ground, then they are worse than useless. And yet this
decision is a blow at all that constitutes us a Nation. To
declare that the United States has no voters--that its officers
are all elected by State voters, is to completely reverse the
order of things, and subordinate the citizens of the United
States to State authority. It will be observed that this decision
goes far beyond the ground hitherto and ordinarily claimed by the
advocates of what are called "States' Rights."

It has usually been supposed that the States possessed the
authority to regulate the exercise of the franchise by the
Federal voter, but never before was the right itself denied as
appurtenant to Federal citizenship. But now the franchise itself
is declared to be non-existent--Federal officers are elected by
State voters. The subject itself is wholly withdrawn from Federal
supervision and control. Even the amendments can not confer
authority over a matter that has no existence. If, then, the
United States has no voters in the States, it can properly have
nothing to do with the subject of elections. If the citizen of
the United States has no right to vote except as a citizen of a
State, his Federal citizenship is, of course, subordinated to his
State citizenship. It logically follows that much of the recent
legislation on this subject by Congress is destitute of
authority. If members of the House of Representatives are elected
by State voters, as here declared, there is no reason why the
States may not, at their pleasure, recall their representatives,
or refuse to elect them, as in 1860 the Southern States claimed
it to be their right to do; and if a sufficient number can be
united in such a movement, the Federal Government will be
completely at their mercy. It may also well be doubted how far
the Southern States are bound by legislation in which they had no
part. Notwithstanding the provision of the XIV. Amendment, that
neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any
claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; it (as held by
the Supreme Court in two cases in 13th Wallace, Chief Justice
Chase dissenting), contracts for the sale or hire of slaves
effected before emancipation are valid, upon the ground that to
take away the remedy for their enforcement would be to impair
their obligation, how much less can the owner of a slave be
deprived of his property, which forms the subject-matter of that
contract, without compensation? If his contract can not be
impaired, surely the thing to which that contract relates can not
be taken from him, except upon compensation. Chief Justice Chase
was of the opinion that the above quoted provision of the XIV.
Amendment could be sustained only upon the ground that the XIII.
Amendment wiped out everything, contracts as well as slavery. Yet
the Court held all such contracts to be valid. And see, in this
connection, the case of Wilkinson _vs_. Leland, 2d Peters, 657.
It is idle to say that these suppositions are visionary. What has
happened once, may occur again. It can hardly be questioned that
if in 1860 the seceding States could have pointed to a decision
of the Supreme Court of the United States such as this, the whole
face of affairs might have been different, and the "erring
sisters" permitted to "go in peace"! The "lost cause" may not be
"lost," after all.

But to resume: The Court tells us in its opinion in this case,
that "there can not be a Nation without a people," but it seems
there may be a Nation without voters! Now the people of the
United States may not have a very profound knowledge of their
institutions, but their intelligence certainly rises to the level
of comprehending that a republican government can not be
established or maintained without voters. It would be a manifest
absurdity to say that in a government created by the people, they
are not voters. Inasmuch, then, as it is admitted by the Court,
if the right of suffrage be a privilege of the citizen of the
United States, that the State Constitution and laws confining it
to men are in violation of the Constitution of the United States
and, consequently, void; as contended for by the plaintiff in
this case, we have really only to examine this single point: Does
the Constitution of the United States recognize the right of
suffrage as belonging to its citizens?

Future generations will look with astonishment at the fact that
such a question could be asked seriously. Not only was the
subject debated in the convention that framed the instrument, but
one of its ablest members, Alexander Hamilton, in the
fifty-second number of the _Federalist_, says:

The definition of the right of suffrage is very justly
regarded as a fundamental article of republican government.
It was incumbent on the convention, therefore, to define and
establish this right in the Constitution. To have left it
open for the occasional regulation of the Congress, would
have been improper for the reason just mentioned. To have
submitted it to the legislative discretion of the States,
would have been improper for the same reason; and for the
additional reason, that it would have rendered too dependent
on the State Governments that branch of the Federal
Government which ought to be dependent on the people alone.
To have reduced the different qualifications in the
different States to one uniform rule, would probably have
been as dissatisfactory to some of the States as it would
have been difficult to the convention. The provision made by
the convention appears, therefore, to be the best that lay
within their option. It must be satisfactory to every State;
because it is conformable to the standard already
established, or which may be established by the State
itself. It will be safe to the United States; because, being
fixed by the State Constitutions, it is not alterable by the
State Governments, and it can not be feared that the people
of the States will alter this part of their constitutions in
such a manner as to abridge the rights secured to them by
the Federal Constitution.

Again, in the XV. Amendment, suffrage is recognized as an
existing right of Federal citizenship. It is not created by that
Amendment. It was already existing. The language is:

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.

A right must exist before it can be denied. There can be no
denial of a thing that has no existence. If it should be said the
XV. Amendment relates only to the negro, we reply that this would
be no answer, even if true, which may be doubted; but the point
we are now discussing is the statement of the Court that the
United States has no voters in the States of its own creation, or
in other words, that Federal suffrage does not exist; we have
shown that this a mistake, it being recognized in the
Constitution; and as the argument of the Court was based on its
non-existence it consequently falls to the ground. This really
disposes of the case, but we will notice other points. The Court
says:

After the adoption of the XIV. Amendment, it was deemed
necessary to have a XV: ...



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