Friday, April 8, 1966: End of poll tax

Mississippi's $2-a-year poll tax was ruled unconstitutional by a special three-judge federal court which forbade the state to apply it as a requirement to vote.
     The judges ruled in favor of a Justice Department suit, brought under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, that contended Mississippi had used the 76-year-old tax to keep Negroes from voting.
     The suit also charged the tax discriminated economically against the poor of any color, and made a negligible contribution to public education revenues -- for which it was earmarked -- of only 0.43 percent.
     The decision forbids application of poll tax payment as a voting requirement in any "municipal, county or state or national election hereafter held within the state of Mississippi."
     The panel, Judge Walter P. Gewin of Tuscaloosa, Ala., of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and District Judges Harold Cox of Southern Mississippi and Claude F. Clayton of Northern Mississippi, noted the decision followed the Supreme Court's March 24 decision against the Virginia state board of elections in a poll tax case.
     Similar federal panels earlier ruled the poll tax unconstitutional in Alabama and Texas.

     -- Story by Associated Press: @
     -- Image taken from nameplate of The Delta Democrat Times (Greenville, Mississippi), January 15, 1964

Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections (March 24, 1966)
* "Supreme Court Strikes Down Virginia Poll Tax" (United Press International, March 24): @
* "Mississippi Last State of Poll Tax" (UPI, March 25): @
* "Supreme Court Says Poll Tax Violates Economic Equality" (AP, March 28): @
* Decision and opinions (from FindLaw): @
* Oral arguments (from www.oyez.org): @
* Biography of Evelyn Thomas Butts (Encyclopedia of Virginia): @

Other resources
* "A Review of the Activities of the Department of Justice in Civil Rights, 1966" (Department of Justice, January 1967): @
* "Recalling an Era When the Color of Your Skin Meant You Paid to Vote" (Smithsonian magazine, March 2016): @
* Earlier post on 24th Amendment (January 23, 1964): @ 

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