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Harman v. Forssenius

Supreme Court of the United States

March 1-2, 1965, Argued ; April 27, 1965, Decided

No. 360

Opinion

 [*529]  [***52]  [**1179]    MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN delivered the opinion of the Court.

We are called upon in this case to construe, for the first time, the Twenty-fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:

] "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."

The precise issue is whether § 24-17.2 of the Virginia Code -- which provides that in order to qualify to vote in federal elections one must either pay a poll tax or file a witnessed or notarized certificate of residence 1 -- contravenes this command.

 [****4]  [*530]   Prior  [***53]  to the adoption of the Twenty-fourth Amendment, the Virginia Constitution  [**1180]  (Art. II, §§ 18-20) and statutes (Va. Code Ann. §§ 24-17, 24-67 (1950)) established uniform standards for qualification for voting in both federal and state elections. The requirements were: (1) United States citizenship; (2) a minimum age of twenty-one; (3) residence in the State for one year, in the city or county for six months, and in the voting precinct for thirty days; and (4) payment "at least six months prior to the election . . . to the proper officer all State  [*531]  poll taxes [$ 1.50 annually] assessed or assessable against him for three years next preceding such election." 2 The statutes further provided for permanent registration. 3 Once registered, the voters could qualify for elections in subsequent years merely by paying the poll taxes.

 [****5]  In 1963, in anticipation of the promulgation of the Twenty-fourth Amendment, the Governor of Virginia convened a special session of the Virginia General Assembly. On November 21 of that year, the General Assembly enacted two Acts 4 [****7]  designed

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380 U.S. 528 *; 85 S. Ct. 1177 **; 14 L. Ed. 2d 50 ***; 1965 U.S. LEXIS 1347 ****

HARMAN ET AL. v. FORSSENIUS ET AL.

Prior History:  [****1]  APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA.

Disposition:  235 F.Supp. 66, affirmed.

CORE TERMS

poll tax, election, voter, district court, certificate of residence, federal election, qualification, registration, Twenty-fourth Amendment, resident, voting, certificate, Hearings, right to vote, state law, franchise, qualify, failure to pay, state election, disenfranchisement, proceedings, complaints, registered, abolished, impairing, suffrage, parties, paying

Constitutional Law, Elections, Terms & Voting, Poll Taxes, Tax Law, State & Local Taxes, General Overview, Administrative Law, Agency Adjudication, Civil Procedure, Preliminary Considerations, Federal & State Interrelationships, Abstention, Estate, Gift & Trust Law, Interpretation, Rules of Construction, Construction Favoring Vesting, Congressional Duties & Powers, Elections, Governments, Local Governments, Administrative Boards, State & Territorial Governments, Elections, Class Actions, Prerequisites for Class Action, Numerosity, Business & Corporate Law, Distributorships & Franchises, Franchise Relationships, Franchise Agreements, Administration & Procedure, Failure to Pay, Franchise Taxes, Civil Rights Law, Voting Rights, Voting Rights Act, Payment for Votes, Protection of Rights, Immunity From Liability