United States Constitution

PREAMBLE : We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution



The Nineteenth Amendment

Granting Women the Right to Vote Important Cases
In 1872, a woman named Virginia Minor tried to register to vote in her home state of Missouri. Under Missouri’s laws, however, she was turned away. Women did not have the ability to vote. Ms. Minor, part of the women’s suffrage (voting rights) movement in Missouri, sued the state. She made the argument that the rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment also prohibited states from denying the right to vote, including denying it to women. The Supreme Court of Missouri rejected this argument, however. In Minor v. Happersett (1875), so did the United States Supreme Court. The Court held that denying the right to vote a valid citizen was not an infringement of any constitutional right. If, on a national level, women wanted to be guaranteed the right to vote, it would have to be afforded through a change in the Constitution.

Indeed, the women’s suffrage movement, led by activists like Susan B. Anthony, had long seen a constitutional amendment as a primary avenue to achieve their goal. Though, before the amendment was eventually ratified in 1919, several states had individually given women the right to vote (the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives was elected in 1916), it was not until this amendment became part of the Constitution that women across the country were guaranteed that right.

The 19th Amendment states as follows:

“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 sex.”

“Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

Even after the passage of the amendment, however, it was still challenged. In Leser v. Garnett (1922), some Maryland men sued the state to prevent women from voting. The plaintiffs made several arguments, including that the amendment unconstitutionally infringed on the rights of states themselves, contradicting state constitutions and forcing the dilution of state voter rolls. However, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected these arguments, ensuring that the 19th Amendment and a woman’s right to vote would never again be constitutionally questioned.

 Minor v. Happersett (1875)

Leser v. Garnett (1922)