South Carolina v. Katzenbach

PETITIONER: South Carolina
RESPONDENT: Katzenbach
LOCATION: South Carolina General Assembly

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)

CITATION: 383 US 301 (1966)
ARGUED: Jan 17, 1966 / Jan 18, 1966
DECIDED: Mar 07, 1966

Facts of the case

Katzenbach v. Morgan was a case, revised by USA Supreme Court regarding the legibility of Congress decision relating to the establishment of legislative provisions in accordance with the 14th Amendment, namely under the Section 5.

In 1965 Congress upheld the Voting Rights Act that was aimed to protect the fundamental rights of the minorities. It implemented the rule of the illegality of literacy tests. The law made a valid the provision regarding that nobody from the Puerto Rican people in New York should be deprived of their suffrage rights for being disabled for writing or reading in English if graduated from at least the sixth classes in school where the official language was not English. Before that, it was the obligation for all members of minorities to pass this test to confirm their level of education.

Morgan & Morgan as the voters in New York filed a suit before the court that this normative act came out the Congress jurisdiction and in such way made the violation of the 14th Amendment. Moreover, the appellants claimed that the state body had no power to regulate the internal state issues.

The case study reflects that the Supreme Court changed the previous order and considered that requirements of the mentioned act didn`t contradict with mentioned constitutional rulings and the government acted in his legal frameworks.

The case brief reflects the dissent position of judges that Congress didn`t have enough legal capacity to approve such normative document that regulated the exceptional state legal issue that was the voting rights aspects.


Did the Act violate the states' rights to implement and control elections?

Media for South Carolina v. Katzenbach

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 17, 1966 in South Carolina v. Katzenbach

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 18, 1966 in South Carolina v. Katzenbach

Earl Warren:

State of South Carolina, Plaintiff, versus Nicholas deB Katzenbach, Attorney General of the United States.

Mr. Leverett.

E. Freeman Leverett:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

Georgia like South Carolina is brought under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by virtue of the number of first instant voting in the 1964 general election rather in the number of people who are registered to vote that year.

In 1964, 63% of all persons of voting age in Georgia were registered, but only 43.2% of the persons of voting age actually voted in the 1964 general election.

Potter Stewart:

Voting age in Georgia is 18?

E. Freeman Leverett:

That is correct sir.

We think that's one reason that is always comparatively a lower percent of people voting in our state because 18-year olds do not tend to register and vote as much as adults.

Byron R. White:

You ought to think you have the primary?

E. Freeman Leverett:

We did not have a primary of any consequence that year that I recall.

We had one in 1962 for governor and the voting in the primary for governor in 1962 I think was somewhat smaller than the vote into presidential election.

I'd like to discuss one or two instances of what we conceive to be arbitrary application of the triggering mechanism of the Voting Rights Act then I will deal with Section 5 as a general proposition.

The effect of Section 4 is to raise a presumption of discrimination at the registration stage, but Georgia like South Carolina is brought under the Act by virtue of something that happened at the voting stage that only 80% of the registered voters in Georgia in 1964 voted Georgia would not have been brought under the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Therefore, we say that there's no rational connection between the fact presumed and the fact assumed.

Secondly, keeping in mind that the Act operates to suspend one aspect of registration because of discrimination assumed to occur at that stage, it appears that Georgia has a higher percentage of its voting age population registered than the five states of Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky and Texas, none of which are subject to the Act.

Thirdly, all the 159 counties in Georgia are placed under the Act when in fact complaints of discrimination have been limited to two or three, perhaps four small counties in Southwest, Georgia.

We have had only two counties involved in voting rights suits.

One county, Randolph County involved a damage suit in 1955.

There's been no problem since that time.

There were two suits in Terrell County, Georgia in 19 -- one in 1958 and one in the 60's.

And in 1964, the Attorney General of United States reported that voters were being permitted to register without difficulty in Terrell County.

I'd like to ask you a few questions.

Is there any requirement that the Georgia law was deactivated so to speak, were deprived against the literacy test after registration?

E. Freeman Leverett:

No sir.

-- what I'm saying is that the man is qualified for registration.

Was there a [Inaudible]

E. Freeman Leverett:

No sir, it is not.

And the second question I want to ask you is the legislative record [Inaudible] is there any evidence before the Congress that add to legislation statute [Inaudible]

E. Freeman Leverett:

No sir, not in Georgia that I recall.

I think there has been evidence that in some states, challenges were initiated in other states, but I do not recall any of that type of thing in Georgia.