The proposal to abolish by national law the requirement now prevailing in seven Southern states that voters shall have paid a poll tax in order to vote in any national election involves a constitutional issue of the first magnitude. In the decade immediately following the Civil War the constitutional division of authority between the national and state governments in dealing with the question of Negro suffrage became a point of bitter controversy in Congress. Out of this struggle came the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution, with certain supporting legislation, the aim of which was to prohibit disfranchisement of the Negro on grounds of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. The current anti-poll tax proposal is designed to carry forward one step further the limitations on state power embodied in these amendments insofar as national elections are concerned, and to realize in a more complete sense their basic objective.
Joseph E. Kallenbach,
CONSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS OF FEDERAL ANTI-POLL TAX LEGISLATION,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol45/iss6/4