Literacy Tests

Literacy Tests.—At an early date the Court held that literacy tests which are drafted so as to apply alike to all applicants for the voting franchise would be deemed to be fair on their face and in the absence of proof of discriminatory enforcement could not be said to deny equal protection.19 But an Alabama constitutional amendment the legislative history of which disclosed that both its object and its intended administration were to disenfranchise African Americans was condemned as violative of the Fifteenth Amendment.20

19 Williams v. Mississippi, 170 U.S. 213 (1898); Cf. Lassiter v. Northampton County Bd. of Elections, 360 U.S. 45 (1960).

20 Davis v. Schnell, 81 F. Supp. 872 (M.D. Ala. 1949), aff'd 336 U.S. 933 (1949).

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Last modified: June 9, 2014