On this day in 1922, the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of Leser v. Garnett, ruled that the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, enfranchising women, is constitutional. How could it be otherwise?
Well, maybe if you’re an adamantine states’ righter (and, yes, male chauvinist pig) and you don’t think the federal constitution can overrule a state constitution: “The only ground of disqualification alleged was that the applicants for registration were women, whereas the Constitution of Maryland limits the suffrage to men.” In such cases, you might argue that the state legislature cannot vote the ratification of a federal amendment that defies the state constitution, which gives life to the state legislature.
Not so fast, said the Supremes. The state legislature is the state legislature except when the federal Constitution wants it on the phone: “the function of a state Legislature in ratifying a proposed amendment to the federal Constitution, like the function of Congress in proposing the amendment, is a federal function derived from the federal Constitution; and it transcends any limitations sought to be imposed by the people of a state.”
This seems like as good a time as any to show you the below. Enjoy the 70’s ethos, and wonder, is it as inaccurate and in its way as appalling as the “Manifest Destineeee” one? (Hint: consider the line, “not a woman here could vote….”)
Answer below the fold.