Brief Fact Summary. A Virginia law mandated the payment of a poll tax, not to exceed $1.50, in order for citizens to be eligible to vote. The constitutionality of the law was brought into question.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A State violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution (Constitution) by making the affluence of the voter or the payment of a fee an electoral standard.
Issue. May a State, consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment, precondition the right to vote in an election on the payment of a poll tax?
Held. No. The judgment of the lower court is reversed.
Justice William Douglas (J. Douglas) argued that once the franchise is granted, lines concerning it may not be drawn that are inconsistent with the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. The interests a State may pursue (i.e., the legitimate ends) in the context of voting are of setting voter qualifications. There is no relationship between ones wealth or the payment of a fee and ones ability to vote intelligently (i.e., the means to ends relationship is lacking). Moreover, the right to vote is too fundamental to be so burdened.
State's poll tax violates equal protection clause.View Full Point of Law