Supreme Court Sends Oscar Leser Packing!
This was the big news 99 years ago. Because on this day, February 27th in 1922, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the 19th Amendment (the one which gives women the right to vote) to the U.S. Constitution. A momentous milestone for women.
The 19th Amendment reads: “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.”
But wait, wasn’t the 19th Amendment ratified two years earlier in 1920? True, but wouldn’t you know it? Two months after it was incorporated into the Constitution it was challenged by a prominent Baltimore attorney by the name of Oscar Leser. Why? Well, he cited a variety of reasons, but they were dubious at best so when his case got the Supreme Court, the Supremes gave his case the boot. So long, Oscar… Hello 19th Amendment.
“…Woman suffrage will succeed, despite this miserable guerilla opposition.”VICTORIA CLAFLIN WOODHULL
This was a clear and decisive win for voting rights and women’s suffrage. But we need to remember, it took seven (7) decades of protests, incarcerations, beatings, marches, hunger strikes, feeding tubes etc. to get there. But American women were undeterred. They were coming for what was theirs.
“…I vote for those who died carrying the dream that one day their vote counted and could matter. I vote for the shoulders I stand on.”OPRAH WINFREY
It’s easy to assume the 19th Amendment only changed things for women, but its passage also changed the country around them. Lawmakers could no longer hide in their cloak rooms and pretend that things that didn’t affect them personally didn’t exist. The voices of women changed our nation for the better – from improved public health and lower children’s mortality rates to better education and bigger budgets for charitable outreach.
“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”IDA B. WELLS-BARNETT
But opportunity was not evenly experienced by all women. Many women of color were still barred from the polls and faced racism-fueled barriers. You see, at the time there was rampant intimidation and voter suppression based on color or immigrant status.
Whew! Glad all that’s behind us. (Just kidding, of course) We have only to look at the 2020 election to see that that is racism is not behind us. Insidious manifestations of voter suppression are all too common. Tactics include onerous voter ID laws, voter roll purges, voter intimidation efforts, limited access to early voting and disinformation campaigns to name just a few. And as you’re reading this, Republican representatives in many states are upping their suppression efforts to counteract the fact that women of color are overwhelmingly voting Democratic. The goal of these representatives? To win elections by disenfranchising as many people of color as possible before the next election cycle. A shockingly un-American practice no matter which way you lean politically. Clearly, we still have much work to do.
“…No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.”DOROTHY DAY
But today, let’s take time out to honor our courageous foremothers and focus on our achievements. For today isn’t just a celebration… it’s a call to action for women to unify through a shared anti-racist, anti-sexist framework.
We won the vote. Now it’s up to each and every one of us to use it. We want to hear from you. A Case for Women is a women-owned- and run organization dedicated to helping individuals get the justice and monetary compensation they rightfully deserve. Our role is to provide a safe place for dialogue and to help facilitate communication between you and your law firm.