4(e) would not be sustained as
appropriate legislation to enforce the Equal Protection Clause
UNLESS the judiciary decides.
Thoughts about Sect 5 requiring Judicial Determination
congressional resourcefulness and
for implementing the Amendment.
confine the legislative power in this context
to the insignificant role of
abrogating only those state laws that the judicial branch was
prepared to adjudge unconstitutional, or of
Merely informing the judgment of the
judiciary by particularizing the "majestic
generalities" of sect. 1 of the Amendment.
To secure Puerto Rican nondiscriminatory treatment
To prohibit NY from denying the
right to vote to large segments of its Puerto Rican Community.
Provision or administration of
Public schools, public housing and
Congressional Authority - Yes
It was well within congressional
authority to say that this need of the Puerto Rican minority for
the vote warranted federal intrusion upon any state interests
served by the English literacy requirement.
Congressional Assessment Yes
It was for Congress, as the branch
that made this judgment, to assess and weigh the various
or pervasiveness of the discrimination in
effectiveness of eliminating the state restriction on
the right to vote as a means of dealing with the evil,
adequacy or availability of
alternative remedies, and
nature and significance of the state interests that
would be affected by the
nullification of the English literacy requirement as applied to
residents who have successfully completed the sixth grade in a
Puerto Rican school.
- Not for the Court to review Congressional Resolution
It is not
for us to review the congressional resolution of
enough that we be able to perceive a basis upon which
the Congress might resolve the conflict as it did.
There plainly was such a basis to
support 4(e) in the application in question in this case.
New York English Requirement Considerations
The desire to provide an incentive
for non-English speaking immigrants to learn the English
language and in order to assure the intelligent exercise of the
Congress might have questioned the role of prejudice
Congress might well have questioned
[if] prejudice played a prominent role in the enactment of the
Denial of precious right to vote
Congress might have also questioned
whether denial of a right deemed so precious and fundamental in
our society was a necessary or appropriate means of encouraging
persons to learn English
South Carolina v. Katzenbach
It was Congress' prerogative to
weigh these competing considerations.
Court Enough that we perceive a basis
Here again, it is enough that we
perceive a basis upon which Congress might predicate a judgment
that the application of New York's English literacy requirement
to deny the right to vote to a person with a sixth grade
education in Puerto Rican schools in which the language of
instruction was other than English
constituted an invidious
discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.
[Justice Harlan] - DISSENT
Interpreted the decision as adopting a test of rationality
For him, it was a judicial question
whether the condition with which Congress has thus sought to
deal is in truth an infringement of the Constitution.
This being something that is the
necessary prerequisite to brining the sect. power into play at
Until today this judgment has always
been one for the judiciary to resolve.
No factual data showing that Spanish
speaking citizens are fully capable of making informed decisions
in a NY election as are English-speaking citizens.
14th Amendment Swallows States