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2020 High School Essay Contest: Essay Prompt

2020 High School Essay Contest: AMENDMENT XIX - 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.

ESSAY PROMPT

Voting is the most basic right of a citizen and vital to a functioning democracy. Women, however, were not always extended this fundamental right. The Nineteenth Amendment, ratified 100 years ago, granted women the right to vote (suffrage). Identify and evaluate some of the methods proponents of the Nineteenth Amendment (suffragists) used to influence and change opinions about voting rights for women. Referencing a specific example, what method do you think was most effective and why?

PUBLICLY AVAILABLE RESOURCES FOR STUDENTS

19th Amendment to the United States Constitution: Women’s Right to Vote (1920)

Federal Bar Association

History of United States Women’s Suffrage

Nineteenth Amendment

Nineteenth Amendment 1920

The Nineteenth Amendment

SELECTED CASE LAW

United States v. Anthony, 24 F.Cas. 829 (C.C.D.N.Y. 1873): In 1872, Susan B. Anthony and 14 other women cast their vote in the November presidential election in Rochester, New York. Anthony was indicted under the act of Congress of May 31, 1870, which made it an offense for a person to knowingly vote without having a lawful right to vote. Anthony was tried and convicted for her actions.

Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1875): The issue before the United States Supreme Court was whether the 14th Amendment granted the right of suffrage upon women despite the provision of the Constitution and laws of the state which granted the right of suffrage solely to men. The Court held "that the Constitution … does not confer the right of suffrage (right to vote) upon anyone, and that the constitutions and laws of the several States which commit that important trust to men alone are not necessarily void."

Fairchild v. Hughes, 258 U.S. 126 (1922): A private citizen of New York challenged the constitutionality of the 19th Amendment claiming that it would increase the costs of elections and "prevent ascertainment of the wishes" of the lawfully entitled male voters. The United States Supreme Court held that the citizen did not have standing to challenge the Amendment where he was not an elected official and the State of New York ratified the Amendment.

Leser v. Garrett, 258 U.S. 130 (1922): The State of Maryland refused to ratify the 19th Amendment and sought to invalidate its authority over citizens in its state. The United States Supreme Court refused this proposition for reasons including that the 19th Amendment was similar to the 15th Amendment that had been "recognized and acted on for half a century."