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Katzenbach v. Morgan

United States Supreme Court
384 U.S. 641 (1966)



In 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Section 4(e) of the Act provided that no person that successfully completed the sixth grade in a public or private school accredited by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, where the language of education was something other than English, could be denied the right to vote in an election because of his inability to read or write English. The election laws of the State of New York, however, required all voters to have the ability to read and write English as a requisite to voting. Morgan and other registered voters in New York City (plaintiffs) brought suit against Katzenbach (defendant), the United States government official tasked with enforcing §4(e). The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of §4(e) in federal district court on the grounds that it prohibited enforcement of New York’s election laws requiring an ability to read and write English as a condition of voting. A three-judge panel of the district court held that §4(e) was unconstitutional, and Katzenbach appealed directly to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Brennan, J.)

Dissent (Harlan, J.)

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