Breediove v. Suttles

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302 U.S. 277 (1937), argued 16–17 Nov. 1937, decided 6 Dec. 1937 by vote of 9 to 0; Butler for the Court. This case involved a challenge to the Georgia poll tax by a white male citizen who claimed that it denied his right to equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment and his Nineteenth Amendment right not to be discriminated against in voting on account of sex. The law required a tax of one dollar per year before registering to vote but exempted persons under 21 and over 60, blind persons, and females who did not register to vote. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the law and rejected the claim. Observing that the Equal Protection Clause does not require absolute equality, Justice Pierce Butler asserted that it was reasonable to limit the poll tax in the manner of the statute. He explained that it would be impossible to make the tax universal because many people were too poor to pay. He said further that women were naturally entitled to special considerations that permitted the state to discriminate in their favor. The Nineteenth Amendment challenge failed because it would have made the amendment in effect a limitation on the state taxing power.

Herman Belz

Subjects: Law.

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